Hip replacement surgery is performed to help restore joint function and mobility by replacing the damaged joint with artificial components. The hip is what's known as a ball-and-socket joint, with the upper end of the thigh bone comprising the ball portion and the cup-shaped acetabulum forming the socket. Hip replacement surgery typically replaces the ball end of the thigh bone and realigns the acetabulum, although some patients may undergo partial hip replacement where only the ball portion is replaced. Two of the most common causes for hip replacement are arthritis and osteonecrosis, a condition that causes bone tissue to die when normal blood supply is cut off.
Full hip replacement can be performed by an arthroscopic procedure or by open surgery. The type of surgery that is best for you will be decided by your orthopedic surgeon based on your medical history, the condition of your hip, and how well your doctor thinks you will recover after surgery. An arthroscopic hip replacement has the advantage of smaller incisions which disturbs less tissue in the hip joint. It also means a faster recovery with few potential issues.
Recovery for joint replacement, including that for the hip, is divided into two phases. The first phase is called the short-term phase and it usually lasts about six weeks, but can last as few as four weeks. This is the period that begins after surgery and ends when the patient can continuously walk about two blocks without pain and without the aid of a walker or cane. Once that goal is achieved, the patient enters phase two, which lasts between six months and a year. Phase two, which is termed long-term recovery is achieved when the incision sites are fully healed and the patient is capable of sustained everyday activities without pain or fatigue.
Most people stay in the hospital after a full hip replacement for one to three days. The stay is to help begin physical therapy and to help you recover from the surgical process. Expect to be out of bed and walking on the day after surgery with the assistance of a walker. One of the main goals of hospitalization and physical therapy is to teach you how to move. There is a period of time where you can dislocate your hip if you do not move your legs and hips at a single unit.