Hip Replacement Surgery Questions & Answers
Hip replacement is a life-changing surgery for patients with hip arthritis. There can be many reasons to develop arthritis of the hip joint.
It can be primary hip osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, secondary to avascular necrosis (AVN) of the femoral head, fractures of the femoral head or acetabulum & it can also happen due to childhood infection of the hip joint.
All these above-mentioned conditions lead to the destruction of the cartilage & bone of the hip joint, resulting in a very painful hip. Patients experience a lot of pain while standing from sitting position, walking, driving & doing other activities of daily living.
On Xrays of the hip, we see the deformed femoral head, reduction or obliteration of joint space & osteophytes. Patients with unilateral disease have shortening of the leg.
With the advancements in surgical techniques (Muscle sparing technique)
& with the availability of modern implants, patients enjoy a very active lifestyle after hip replacement surgery.
With the advent of Ceramic ball heads, ceramic liners & highly cross-linked polyethylene liners, we can safely offer total hip replacement (THR) surgery to younger patients also (age less than 40 years).
All the patients of Primary hip replacement can stand & walk within 24 hours of surgery. Initially, they need some support in the form of a cane or a walker (depending upon the pre-operative muscle strength & balance) but within a few days, they can walk unaided. We recommend all the patients to start doing hip exercises in the pre-operative period, it’s called Prehabilitation or Prehab.
It helps the patients in getting quicker recovery so much so that they can start light jogging very early after the surgery.
See this video : –
Q. When can one drive a car after hip replacement surgery?
With advanced muscle-sparing surgical technique & fast track rehabilitation, muscle strength & reflexes return to their pre-surgical levels very early during the course of recovery. Generally, patients are allowed to drive a car after 4-6 weeks of surgery.
Please remember that the patients with good Prehab are able to drive as early as 3 weeks after surgery while others may take up to 8 weeks. If only the left hip is replaced then the patients can drive the automatic cars even earlier.
It’s OK to feel a little heavy or a little stiff around the operated area after the drive, it usually settles down with rest & cold compresses. We recommend that the driving time should be increased gradually to get the best experience.
As time progresses, there is no such feeling even after long drives.
See this video-
It’s important to mention here that the patient must not be taking a painkiller that induces sleep or impairs driving skills- it’s unsafe & illegal.