According to New Orleans orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer, hip replacement surgery may just be the best operation in medicine for restoring quality of life. When most patients wake up from surgery, the bone-on-bone, grinding, sharp, stabbing pain that they’ve been living with has disappeared.
Within hours of anesthesia wearing off, those patients who may have required a wheelchair to get around before surgery are typically up and walking, some using a crutch or cane for support.
According to your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon, osteoarthritis in the hip joint worsens over time, often requiring a hip replacement. Osteoarthritis sets in when the patient loses the smooth cartilage cap that lines the end of the bones that help joints move freely and easily. And when that cap wears down, the bone grinds in the joint, similar to sandpaper.
Many patients are born with a disposition for wearing out their hips early. Some might also develop osteoarthritis due to hip dysplasia, in which the socket is too shallow, resulting in stress on the cartilage. Others lose cartilage over time due to hip impingement, which results in the ball and socket bumping into each other.
A small minority of patients had a prior hip injury that led to arthritis. For them, implanting a new joint with metal, plastic, or ceramic components produces life-changing results. A few years down the line, they may even forget that they had a hip replacement – the pain relief can be that good.
Those years leading up to the surgery, however, can be a long road of searching for answers, according to your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon. Hip replacement doesn’t become an option until more conservative treatments — such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and joint injections — fail to alleviate the pain.
It’s best to avoid getting hip replacement surgery too early because, just like car bearings that need to be replaced, the bearings used in artificial hips don’t last forever. At the same time, patients shouldn’t wait so long that the pain interferes with their ability to live their life to the fullest.
The hip replacement surgery takes about an hour and a half to complete. Most patients stay overnight, and Dr. Meyer encourages them to return home the next day to recover in their own environment surrounded by people who can care for them. Within two weeks of recovery, most patients can perform household activities. Within six weeks, they are out shopping. And at the three-month mark, they are able to start getting back to playing tennis and skiing.
If you’re interested in hip replacement surgery, it’s important to go into it being motivated, including being willing to work closely with a physical therapist. Patients should be in the best shape possible prior to surgery. The better patients go into hip replacement surgery, the better they will come out of it.