Hip surgery is a common procedure these days and whilst non-invasive treatment options, such as anti-inflammatory medication, targeted physiotherapy, injections or hip braces are usually explored first, a hip replacement can often be the best option. There is naturally an element of risk with all medical procedures, however, specialist guidance can help you to prepare you both physically and mentally in advance, so you stand the best chance of making a quick recovery.
Hip replacement surgery is low risk
Medical advancements are enabling more and more people to live a life free from joint pain.
Joint pain can occur as the result of injury, wear and tear, or from a condition such as osteoarthritis.
According to the National Joint Registry, in England and Wales, a total of 160,000 total hip and knee replacement procedures are performed every year.
- Broadly, 60,000 hip surgery procedures are performed every year
- Osteoarthritis is the primary cause, with approximately 93% directly related to this condition
- 60% of total recorded surgeries were performed on women
- The average age of women having a hip replacement was 69 years of age
Read more – Common Causes of Hip Pain
Preparing for hip surgery
Hip surgery is low risk, but of course it isn’t risk free.
Seeking treatment from experienced, hip specialists will help to ensure you get the very best care available when it comes to your health.
There are also a number of actions you can take yourself, to prepare for surgery.
(1) Plan ahead
When it comes to your health, it is vital to plan ahead, if you can. Fortunately, with a procedure like hip surgery it is rarely an emergency, so you do have time to ensure you have asked all necessary questions and prepared yourself physically and mentally as best as possible.
Because everyone is different when it comes to recovery times, it is essential to consider all eventualities before you schedule your surgery date.
(2) Ask lots of questions
Fully understanding all elements of hip replacement surgery will enable you to feel confident that you are making a good decision. Ask your consultant lots of questions, even the ones you may be embarrassed to ask.
- How long does the procedure take?
- How are you anaesthetised?
- How long will you need to take off work, if you are still working?
- What is a typical recovery time?
- Is there an alternative?
- What are the associated risks for someone your age, weight and level of health?
(3) Lose weight
If you are overweight, your doctor will likely encourage you to lose weight in the weeks and months prior to your surgery. If you are obese there are higher risks associated with recovery so hip surgery may not be suitable until you reduce your weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight before surgery can reduce the strain on your new hip and lower your risk of complications of surgery.
(4) Gain strength
As well as losing weight, gaining strength before surgery can help to speed your recovery. Improving your upper body strength will help for if you need to use crutches following surgery.
Speak to your doctor for any specific exercises that would help, or hinder, prior to surgery.
(5) Visit the dentist
It is generally advised to get a dental check-up prior to your surgery. This is because there is a risk of bacteria from a tooth infection, or abscess, getting into your bloodstream. A dentist can give you the all-clear.
(5) Quit smoking
If you smoke, your doctor will advise you to stop or reduce considerably, as not only does smoking slow down healing, prolonging recovery, but there is also an increased risk of a chest or wound infection.
(6) Pre-admission clinic
It may be required for you to visit your consultant a few weeks before your planned surgery for a few tests. These may include:
- General health exam – ensure you are suitable for the anaesthetic and the operation.
- Blood tests – checking for anaemia and for adequate kidney function
- Xrays – of your hip
- Urine sample – to eliminate the risk of infection
- An ECG – to assess if your heart is healthy
(7) Know your medical information
Getting organised in advance of your surgery is important as this will minimise pressure of trying to find information at short notice.
Medical information, such as the following, should be written down and kept to hand:
- The name and contact details of your doctor or surgeon
- Who to call in an emergency
- A list your health conditions
- A list of medicines and supplements and when you need to take them
- Insurance information, if applicable
(8) Consent for the National Joint Registry
It is likely that once your hip replacement surgery is confirmed, you will be asked by your doctor to sign a consent form so that your procedure can be tracked by the National Joint Registry to asses the safety, durability and effectiveness of your joint replacement.
This is perfectly normal, and whilst it is optional, The National Joint Registry has been reporting on joint replacement for over 15 years and their intention is to continually improve procedures.
(9) Practice your physiotherapy exercises
Following hip surgery, you will need to carry out some physical therapy exercises to aid recovery. This may be with the assistance of a physiotherapist, but you will also need to do some on your own too.
In the weeks leading up to your surgery, practice the exercises that will be expected of you; your doctor can give you an idea of these. Also, give any crutches a trial run so you are not required to learn at a time when you are feeling more vulnerable.
(10) Get your home ready
Walking with crutches or a walker requires more space in the house, so whilst you are completely mobile, prepare your home to suit your forthcoming temporary circumstances. This will help minimise the risk of injury or breakages.
If you feel particularly anxious, you may like to install safety rails to the toilet, shower or bath, which will help you with movement.
Give your home a general de-clutter if you can and put the items that you need to access regularly, within easy reach.
Ensure your phone is always handy so that you are able to make calls at any time you feel in need. This is really important if you live on your own.
Good advice is also to stock up on food supplies so you can have a few weeks of easy-living whilst you recover. Make batches of your favourite meal and freeze it so you can eat nutritiously but not have to go to the efforts of cooking.
Hopefully it won’t take you long to get back to your normal routine, but in the meantime, it is essential to be as comfortable as possible.
(11) Seek help
Family, friends and neighbours are typically pleased to help so don’t be afraid to ask a few people to lend a hand.
Advise people that you are getting surgery and see where they may be able to pitch in. Even if it is just taking out your rubbish once a week, it will make a difference to your recovery knowing you have people to rely on.