Hip replacement surgery can alleviate pain, improve your mobility and change your life for the better. Joint issues often worsen over time, making hip replacements one of the ways to repair and treat damaged hip joints. However, there are a variety of factors you need to consider before choosing surgical intervention.
We’ll explore some of the things you’ll need to consider before opting for a hip replacement. Gathering the facts from a hip replacement surgeon before your surgery will ensure you can navigate this process with confidence. Here are five things you should consider to make the best decision for your hip health.
1. Severity of Symptoms
Hip replacement surgery is an invasive procedure with about four to six weeks of recovery time before you can return to work. Though this surgery can successfully eliminate hip pain and restore your hip to a healthy state, it should be used as a last resort.
Before choosing hip replacement surgery, consider conservative treatments and lifestyle changes to minimise pain. For example, regular low impact exercise is a common treatment for osteoarthritis and other joint issues. This will strengthen muscles and prolong the degenerative breakdown of joint tissue. Over-the-counter pain medication is another way to ensure you can go about your daily life without interference from your hip joint.
However, if the pain in your hip persists or your condition worsens to the point where exercise and pain medication no longer provide adequate relief, hip replacement surgery is a good option to remove the pain and restore function.
2. Timely Surgery
Many patients often choose to delay their surgery due to fear of the procedure. Delays in surgery can worsen the condition, leading to further stiffness or even bone loss at the hip. This can make the surgery more complicated to perform, which leads to longer surgical time and increased blood loss.
Patients who need the surgery and get it done at a younger age also recover faster, enjoy better mobility and benefit more from the hip replacement.
Hip replacement surgery is a major operation that requires the patient to be in good health for the procedure to be performed safely. Before opting for the surgery, be sure to talk through all your options with a specialist. For example, if you have diabetes, it is essential to have good blood sugar control before the surgery is performed. This will help to reduce chances of wound or implant infection. Patients with severe osteoporosis are at higher risk of developing fractures of the femur after the surgery.
Speak to your hip specialist to find out when is the optimal time to get your hip replacement done.
3. Anterior vs Posterior Approach to the Hip
A hip replacement is usually done using either the anterior or posterior approach. The terms ‘anterior’ and ‘posterior’ describe the entry point into the hip joint to perform the hip replacement. There are certain pros and cons to each technique, which patients should consider before opting for the surgery.
In the anterior approach, the patient lies on their back and an incision is made along the front of the hip. Muscles are then retracted to one side to access the hip joint. The hip replacement is performed with the help of intra-operative fluoroscopy or x-rays to confirm the position of the implants and leg length. This technique is able to confirm the implant position with precision and dislocation rates are lower. Studies also show that this technique decreases recovery time but it also comes with risks of injury to the nerves and fractures.
In the posterior approach, the patient lies on their side. The incision is centred over the side and back of the hip. The muscles and hip capsule will be temporarily detached to access the hip joint. An advantage of this technique includes better visualisation of the area, which is important for complex and revision cases. The surgical time of this approach is shorter with lesser blood loss. While the success rate is similar to the anterior approach, it also comes with its own risks such as nerve injury and a slightly higher dislocation rate.
Your hip surgeon will discuss with you the pros and cons of each approach and the suitability of the approach for your surgery. Some patients require only the posterior approach, while some are eligible for both approaches.
4. Rehabilitation and Recovery
Recovering from hip replacement surgery can take as little as one month, with many patients able to walk on the same day as their operation. However, full recovery will take patience and post-operative care. You may not be able to do intense exercise for 2-3 months to ensure your chances of success.
The rehabilitation process following your hip replacement surgery will help you gain the full range of mobility and strength. However, you will need to be committed to following post-operative instructions provided by your physical therapist. Before you decide on a hip replacement, ensure that you can make these commitments and take the time needed to allow your body to recover.
5. Surgeon’s Experience and Expertise
Your choice of hip replacement surgeon will play a significant role in the quality and success of your hip replacement surgery. It’s best to opt for an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in hip replacement to ensure they have the necessary expertise and experience. Be sure to opt for a hip replacement surgeon with a proven track record of successful procedures.
Dr Kau: Hip Replacement Surgeon
With 15 years of experience practising as an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Kau Chung Yuan has treated multiple complex cases involving hip and knee replacement, periprosthetic fractures, ligament issues and sports injuries. He is versatile in both the posterior and anterior approaches to the hip, and can help you with your hip replacement surgery and recovery. To discuss your condition and eligibility for hip replacement surgery, reach out to Dr Kau here.