Making A Decision To Have A Hip Replacement
The decision to have a hip replacement is not something to take lightly, although the outcomes are typically very good with this type of surgery it is still surgery and there are associated risks. Consideration whether or not to proceed with a hip replacement surgery typically necessitates that the more conservative measures taken in an attempt to manage pain and improve function such as physiotherapy treatment have failed to yield satisfactory results. If an individual has reached this point then having a discussion with their chosen orthopaedic surgeon can help in deciding whether hip replacement surgery is the best option for them at this stage. Ultimately for such a decision to be made the risks and complications of hip arthroplasty surgery, (including those related to the surgery itself) need to be taken into account.
Post Surgical Expectations Following Hip Arthroplasty
It is important to understand what having a hip replacement can and can not achieve. Firstly it is worth commenting that for the majority of individuals following surgery they will experience a significant lift in capacity to perform their daily activities and an overall rise in physical activity levels accompanied with a dramatic reduction in hip pain. However, people need to be aware that excessive activity may speed up the normal wear of the prosthetic replacement and potentially lead to the failure of the hip replacement. As a result the majority of surgeons are likely to advise against getting involved in high impact exercises like running or high impact sports such as soccer or netball following hip arthroplasty. This is recommended in an attempt to avoid the early “break down” of the replacement, turning an otherwise successful surgery into one that appears unsuccessful. I remember my dentist suggesting to me that all work done has a shelf life when I had one of my existing fillings replaced and the same can be said of prosthetic replacements in the hip and unnecessarily reducing this shelf life through inappropriate loading is best avoided, so it is important to heed your surgeons long term guidelines. The positive is that following a hip arthroplasty activities such as swimming, walking, hiking, dancing, golf, and many other low-impact sports are usually possible and encouraged.
With appropriate activity modification and attempts in maintaining within a health weight range (which is important for the longevity of the replacement, as being overweight may speed up the normal wear of the hip replacement) hip replacements can last for many many years with estimates from national registries suggesting that patients and surgeons can expect a hip replacement to last around 25 yrs in 58% of patients.
Risks And Complications Of Surgery
A hip replacement is generally considered a safe and effective medical procedure however, there are always risks and potential complications associated with surgery and a few of the common ones can include:
- Post surgical infections
- Developing post surgical blood clots
- Injury to nerve tissue or blood vessels during the surgery
Post surgically specific to a hip arthroplasty some of the negative outcomes or risks include:
- That the surgery fails to relieve the individuals pain
- Surgery leaves the individual with a leg length inequality where the right and left leg are no longer the same length
- Suffering a hip dislocation, a situation where the ball comes out of the socket (the risk for this is at its greatest in the first months following surgery).
- That the replacement joint loosens, or wears out over time.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Risks Associated With Hip Replacement should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, medical specialist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.