Are you suffering with a painful and stiff hip that is letting you down? Do you feel pain at night and find it increasingly difficult to walk with catching or giving way? Perhaps your friends or family members have noticed you’ve started limping and you’re struggling to keep up when walking. Are you finding it harder to do simple things like put on a sock or tie a shoelace?
Maybe you’ve had lots of physiotherapy, but now the hip is really holding you back. If you have wear and tear arthritis [osteoarthritis] throughout the hip, you may need a total hip replacement.
How do I know if I need a hip replacement?
Many people wonder, are they too young to have a hip replacement? You might even be thinking this yourself. You may know people who have had a hip replacement and wonder whether it’s the right thing for you.
If you have a stiff and painful hip, or even a stiff hip with little pain, and it’s really letting you down, I’ll take you through a thorough assessment. I’ll examine you, watching how you walk, watching how your hip moves, and then we’ll carry out x-rays and sometimes an MRI or CT scan.
I’ll be looking to see the degree of degeneration of your hip joint, and I’ll want to really understand what you’re struggling to do activity-wise, and what you want to be able to get back to doing.
If you’ve tried many of the conservative ways of dealing with arthritis in the hip, such as injections and physiotherapy and osteopathy, and you’re still not able to get to be comfortable, then we may be talking about a total hip ‘arthroplasty’ (hip replacement surgery). Many patients tell me that this surgery has helped given them back their lives.
What happens during the hip replacement surgery?
Hip replacement surgery means a short stay in hospital – most people will tend to stay in hospital for around three days and two nights. On the day of the surgery, you’ll have a general or spinal anaesthetic and through the use of clever pain control you’ll be up and about on the same day.
This kind of ‘enhanced recovery’ means that with the guidance of a physiotherapist, you’ll be up and walking, just a few hours after surgery, and we’ll make sure that you’re very comfortable.
The operation lasts about 60 minutes and when you wake up, there’ll be a dressing on your outer thigh. You’ll been encouraged by the physiotherapists to start moving the ankle and bending the knee. Within hours you will be standing with support, and we will encourage you to start walking normally, initially with the use of a frame or crutches.
I always use absorbable sutures, which means you don’t need any stitches removing. We’ll generally meet again around two weeks after the surgery, and it’s really important that you embrace and engage with the rehabilitation that’s going to be guided by your specialist physiotherapist or osteopath.
What can I expect after my total hip replacement?
For the first week, you can probably expect your hip is going to be feeling rather achy at nighttime, and you may need some painkillers to sleep. Quite often any discomfort recovers very rapidly. Most patients find hip replacement surgery much easier to get going than a knee replacement.
You’ll be able to be active using crutches for comfort, and after a few weeks, most of my patients will have been able to rid themselves of the crutches entirely. You’ll be working with your physiotherapist to strengthen the muscles around the hip and pelvis ensuring you can flex your hip fully.
I generally suggest that people take around six weeks off work, which gives sufficient time to recover and time to engage with rehab. Returning to driving might take up to six weeks, and really this is the test of whether you can control the vehicle and perform an emergency stop. It’s a good idea to liaise with your car insurer before starting to drive again.
How long do hip replacements last?
A pervading myth that still lingers is that hip replacements don’t last very long, and therefore you should wait for as long as you possibly can before having one. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
We now know that with new implant technology we can expect our hip replacements to last at least 20 years.
Additionally, the vast majority of patients are really glad they had the surgery. Over 95% of people who undergo hip replacement surgery have a really dramatic reduction in their hip pain and a very big improvement in flexibility getting them back to the activities they like to carry out.
What can I expect to do with my hip after a hip replacement?
You will make a rapid recovery and will see within a few days a change for the better in the range of movement and feel of the hip.
Most of my patients will be able to return to golf, tennis, and skiing. I’m often asked is it possible to run with a hip replacement? Whilst it may accelerate the wear of the replaced joint, we do know of some patients who were runners previously, who choose to return to running after replacement surgery. It’s probably a good idea to avoid football and contact sports, such as rugby or martial arts.
When can I fly after total hip replacement?
After any significant surgery, our risk of blood clots is increased, and so we recommend that for at least six weeks you should avoid long haul flights, but certainly it’s a good idea to use compression stockings whenever you’re flying.
Are there any risks with total hip replacement surgery?
As with all surgery, there are theoretical risks, although thankfully big post-op problems (such as blood clots, nerve damage and severe infections) are very rare.
You might experience some pain, swelling in the leg, or bruising or stiffness. Most of these problems will settle with great rehab afterwards.
How much does a hip replacement cost?
***** prices and packages to be listed *****
I am often told by patients that their hip replacement surgery has given them back their life and mobility. They also realize how bad the hip was! Patients who do best, are patients that do a little bit of ‘pre-habilitation’ work to strengthen before their surgery, and really embrace the post-op physio rehab making sure they do their daily exercises.
If you have a painful hip that’s holding you back, don’t struggle on, get in touch and book an appointment.