TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT
Relieving Hip Pain and Restoring Mobility with Total Hip Replacement Surgery
If you experience frequent hip discomfort that disrupts your daily life, hip replacement surgery may help provide relief. This procedure can reduce pain and stiffness to help you walk, climb stairs, and perform routine activities more comfortably. When nonsurgical treatments no longer provide adequate relief, total hip arthroplasty is a proven surgical solution.
Dr. Herrick J. Siegel, an experienced hip replacement surgeon with Siegel Orthopaedics in Birmingham, Alabama, specializes in performing minimally invasive total hip replacements to help patients regain mobility and resume an active lifestyle. This article provides an overview of hip replacement surgery, including how it works, ideal candidacy, and what to expect during recovery.
Understanding Your Hip Joint
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint formed by the femoral head at the top of the thigh bone articulating with the acetabulum of the pelvis. A smooth cartilage called articular cartilage covers the bones’ surfaces to facilitate smooth gliding as the hip flexes and extends. Ligaments surround the joint capsule and provide stability.
In osteoarthritis, this cartilage wears down, resulting in roughened bone surfaces that rub together painfully. Inflammation, stiffness, and gradually worsening pain often result. Conservative treatments aim to alleviate discomfort, but surgery may become necessary. Other conditions warranting hip replacement include rheumatoid arthritis, injuries, and avascular necrosis.
How Total Hip Replacement Works
In total hip arthroplasty, Dr. Siegel resurfaces the damaged femoral head and acetabulum with prosthetic components to smoothly recreate the hip joint’s ball-and-socket function. The procedure involves:
- Making an incision to access the hip joint.
- Removing the arthritic femoral head and acetabulum.
- Positioning the new femoral and acetabular implants.
- Securing the components in place with bone cement.
- Closing the incision.
The femoral component has a rounded head that replaces the worn femoral head. This articulates against a cup-shaped socket implant restoring the acetabulum. These implants are constructed of durable metals, ceramics, and plastics to withstand years of use.
Total hip replacement removes arthritic joint surfaces and friction to alleviate pain. An experienced surgeon like Dr. Siegel utilizes meticulous techniques for optimal alignment and leg length equalization. Thorough precautions are taken to avoid complications.
Who is a Good Candidate for Total Hip Replacement?
If chronic hip pain interferes with daily life and persists despite conservative treatments, you may benefit from total hip arthroplasty. Good candidates include:
- Patients from ages 50-80 years old typically
- Hip pain that worsens with activity and limits function
- Stiffness in the hip joint that restricts mobility
- Lack of pain relief from medications, injections, physical therapy, or walking aids
- Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or avascular necrosis of the hip joint
During a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Siegel will determine if you are likely to achieve significant improvements in pain and mobility from total hip replacement based on your health history, exam findings, and degree of debilitation. Health conditions affecting surgical risk will also be considered.
Preparing for Your Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Proper preparation helps ensure a smooth surgery and recovery. Our team provides detailed instructions, but here are some ways to get ready:
- Discontinue blood-thinning medications if directed
- Stop smoking to reduce complications risks
- Attend physical therapy to strengthen muscles beforehand
- Arrange transportation for surgery and follow-up appointments
- Remove trip hazards and install safety bars at home
- Stock up on groceries, medications, and other essentials
- Make accommodations if you live alone or have small children
Our staff will guide you through every step of the preparation process. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Staying as informed as possible will empower you to participate actively in your hip replacement surgery journey.
What to Expect During and After Hip Replacement Surgery
Dr. Siegel performs hip replacement surgery either under general anesthesia or a spinal nerve block to keep you comfortable. The procedure takes 1-2 hours to complete. Most patients can go home the same day but some may stay one night in the hospital.
After surgery, you will:
- Wake up in the recovery room for initial monitoring
- Have dressings and ice applied to the hip incision site
- Begin gentle movement exercises the day after surgery
- Use a walker or crutches for support when walking initially
- Be given pain medication and instructions for wound care
- Have physical therapy to help regain strength and mobility
- Require assistance with daily activities for 2-6 weeks
- Have follow-up appointments to track your progress
With your new hip, you should be able to walk unassisted in 1-2 months. By 3 months, most patients can resume driving, light household chores, and sedentary work. Complete recovery takes approximately 6 months for most patients.
Recovering After Your Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Rehabilitation after total hip arthroplasty focuses on:
- Controlling pain and swelling initially
- Progressively increasing weightbearing through the hip
- Improving range of motion and core strength
- Resuming normal daily activities like bending, walking, and climbing stairs
- Building up to higher impact activities under your doctor's guidance
With commitment to the prescribed exercise protocol, you can expect to be back to most normal activities around 2-3 months post-operatively. Your orthopedic team will provide individualized instructions to help you recover safely and optimize your surgical outcome.
Potential Risks and Complications
Total hip replacement is highly successful but complications can occasionally occur if precautions are not followed. Potential risks include:
- Joint infection - Uncommon and treated with antibiotics if it occurs.
- Blood clots - Prevented with medication, compression stockings, and early mobility.
- Implant loosening - Rare with today's cementing techniques and materials.
- Dislocation - Avoid certain movements and positions initially to prevent this.
- Leg length discrepancy - Care is taken to equalize leg lengths.
- Persistent pain - Rare if proper surgical techniques are utilized.
- Nerve injury - Extremely rare given Dr. Siegel's experience and surgical skills.
Make sure to discuss your personal risk profile and follow all post-operative activity restrictions to minimize complications. Report any concerning symptoms like fever, wound issues, or unusual pain to our office promptly.
Expected Outcomes After Total Hip Replacement
When performed appropriately on well-selected candidates, total hip arthroplasty provides excellent improvements in:
- Reduced hip discomfort and pain with activity
- Increased ease and range of motion of the joint
- Improved ability to walk and climb stairs
- Enhanced capacity to perform daily activities
- Higher quality of life and independence
Over 90% of Dr. Siegel's hip replacement patients report good or excellent outcomes at 5 years after surgery. While an artificial hip cannot reproduce a normal native hip joint, total hip replacement provides one of the most reliable ways to alleviate arthritic hip pain and restore mobility.
Is Total Hip Replacement Right for You?
If hip arthritis is taking a toll on your daily life, total hip arthroplasty may provide an effective solution. This surgery reliably reduces joint pain and stiffness to help you resume an active lifestyle. However, careful patient selection criteria must be met to achieve optimal results.
Dr. Herrick Siegel will thoroughly assess your hip arthritis and overall health to determine if you are likely to gain significant improvements in mobility and pain relief from total hip replacement surgery. Contact our Birmingham office today to schedule a consultation. For those suffering from severe hip arthritis, total hip replacement can be life changing.
To learn more about the range of orthopaedic options available to you, contact Dr. Herrick J. Siegel at 205-930-8339.