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Hip Replacement: Improving Mobility

2015_06_16_Hip Replacement

If you’ve decided to have hip replacement surgery, you’ve probably suffered with pain and mobility issues. The surgery is often performed on patients who have osteoarthritis of the hip joint, but also for other reasons such as rheumatoid arthritis or an injury. It’s a very common procedure, with about 332,000 hip replacement surgeries being performed in the U.S. each year.

Hip pain, damage, or disease can limit mobility

Surgery can often benefit people who have pain that limits their everyday activities. They may find it difficult to walk, bend, or sit in a chair and get up easily and without pain. It’s also often recommended if other measures, such as medication and physical therapy, aren’t providing enough pain relief.

The surgery is most commonly performed on people age 50 to 80, but it can also benefit younger patients. For example, a teenager with juvenile arthritis may have a diseased hip joint that causes pain and mobility issues. They, too, may be helped by hip replacement surgery.

Surgery replaces bone and cartilage with a prosthetic hip

During this surgery, the damaged or diseased bone and cartilage is replaced by a prosthetic hip. It will mimic the ball-and-socket design of your natural hip.

You’ll have a recovery period after your surgery, but you should be able to do most of your regular activities about three to six weeks after your hip replacement.

Physical therapy will help you recover

Your mobility exercises will probably begin the first day after your surgery. A day or two after surgery, you may be able to sit, stand, and walk with assistance. A physical therapist will work with you at the hospital once or twice a day and continue working with you several times a week after you’re home.

Depending on the type of hip replacement surgery you have, your hospital stay could range from one to three or more days. If you need additional help, you can be referred to a rehabilitation hospital, but most patients are cleared to go straight home.

At home, you’ll work with a physical therapist on your mobility. He or she will help you with exercises to strengthen your hip and return it to its normal motion. Twenty to 30 minutes of exercises two or three times a day are usually recommended.

You’ll also walk with the aid of devices such as a cane, walker, or handrails. You’ll be able to resume many parts of your normal routine, but you should take special care to avoid falling and damaging your hip. Stairs should not be attempted without the help of an assistive device or caregiver.

After recovery, comfort and mobility increase

After your recovery period, you should be able to perform daily activities with much less pain than before. Your new hip joint will make mobility easier, letting you walk more easily, climb stairs, and get in and out of the car without an issue. You’ll probably be able to do a wide variety of activities as long as they don’t put too much stress on your hip joint. Golfing, swimming, dancing, and biking are usually OK, but running, basketball, and other high-impact activities aren’t usually recommended.

Every surgery and patient is different, of course, but most people who have hip replacement surgery have very positive results. They have dramatically less pain and are able to be more mobile and active.

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