Conservative measures, as described above, are used until they no longer
provide adequate pain relief, and the functions of daily living become
severely limited. Non-operative treatment usually results in some improvement
in pain, endurance, and function. Very often non-operative treatment can
not be indefinite.
Since arthritis or degenerative conditions within the hip are usually
progressive, hip replacement surgery is often the choice when non-operative
treatments no longer work.
Initial care of the hip replacement incision includes keeping it clean and
dry for 7-14 days, followed by suture or staple removal. Certain precautions
should be taken to prevent dislocation during the first 8 weeks. These are:
No excessive flexion of the hip (such as
being seated on a low toilet or on low chairs).
Great care must be taken in rising from
a prone to a standing position.
Great care must be taken
getting in or out of a car.
- Patients should also be careful to not
cross their legs, which may lead to dislocation.
- Aggressive activities such as heavy lifting
or significant stair climbing must be avoided.
An exercise program is usually recommended
for general conditioning of the leg during the rehabilitation process.
Most patients, including those with non-cemented implants, are placed
on protective weight-bearing with either crutches or a walker for 6-8
weeks following hip replacement surgery. The total recovery time, including
return of muscle function, normalization of gait and improvement in
quality of life may take 6-9 months. The pain relief from hip replacement
surgery is usually immediate and long-lasting.
The fact that hip replacement components are artificial makes it especially
important for the patient to return to the physician office for follow-up
on a regular basis. Most physicians recommend annual follow up to assess
the condition of the prosthesis, and evaluate the bone for underlying
wear. An X-ray and physical examination will usually reveal any problems.
Follow-up visits can help prevent devastating complications from loosening,
wear, or fracture around the prosthesis.
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