Hip Replacement: 5 Things to Know Before Surgery

If you’re suffering from severe, constant hip pain and are unable to walk a few steps unaided, or you are using a stick to walk or get up from the sitting position, you could be suffering from hip joint arthritis.

“Hip joint arthritis could happen due to wearing out of the cartilage. This maybe associated with abnormal hip ball and socket development.” says Dr. Vikas J. Seth, Senior Consultant, Orthopedics.

You maybe advised to get hip X rays and an MRI to confirm the diagnosis of hip arthritis.

“If these reveal loss of blood supply to the hip and your mobility is severely impaired, then you would require hip replacement surgery”   

Meera Goyel, 65 had all sorts of fears and concerns about a hip replacement surgery when she found out she needed one. One by one, she asked the orthopedic surgeon all the questions on her mind.

1. Possibility of Surgery in Heart Patients

“Is surgery advised for patients with heart disease?” Meera asked, referring to her own condition.

“It is very safe to do a hip replacement surgery, even in older patients “ explained Dr. Vikas.

“People suffering from heart or kidney disease will have to be thoroughly examined by specialists before being operated upon. “

2. Pain During Surgery

“Will the surgery be painful?” Meera asked, fearful.

It is common to fear surgery because of the pain associated with it.

“You will have minimal pain during surgery because of anesthesia. There are also patient specific pain relief options that lessen pain after surgery” said Dr. Vikas.

With modern day techniques, very few people experience pain beyond their tolerable limits.

3. Risks involved in Hip Replacement

“Are there any risks I should be aware of?” Meera wanted to know.

“ Hip replacement surgery is a fairly safe procedure. “

“But since most patients are elderly and could suffer from heart disease and diabetes, it is essential  that we conduct thorough check ups prior to the surgery. This ensures minimal risks. “

“There are chances of clots forming in the veins and infection, but these can be prevented easily.”

Under all normal circumstances, you are unlikely to require any blood transfusion unless you have pre-existing low haemoglobin.

4. Resuming Activities after Surgery

Under normal circumstances, you would require 3-4 days in the hospital for surgery and rehabilitation.

“When would I walk after a hip replacement?” Meera was keen to know. Her painful hip made it uncomfortable to even stand up without support.

“You would be made to walk the same day or the next day of surgery with the help of a walker” Dr. Vikas reassured her.

“Usually with advanced physiotherapy and a rehabilitation program, you could get back to normal daily activities within 3-4 weeks after surgery. “

5. Life of the Implant

With the best quality implants and modern surgical techniques, your hip can last upto 30 years or more.

Confident about her improved mobility after surgery, Meera scheduled the surgery once she was deemed fit enough for it by clinicians.

Physiotherapy after Surgery

Meera was relieved her surgery went well “I was so scared for nothing.. I didn’t feel pain during the surgery, and now I can move around with a walker and minimal discomfort. “

Her physiotherapy sessions started the very next morning after surgery. These included postoperative exercises such as ankle and toe movements along with breathing exercises.

Functional rehabilitation and hip strengthening exercises appropriate for Meera’s age started soon after.

“It is critical to attend physiotherapy sessions religiously after a hip replacement surgery. Your commitment to physiotherapy determines how soon you’ll be able to walk unaided, without any support” concludes Dr Aman Sachdeva, Consultant, Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation.

Within a few weeks of intensive physiotherapy, Meera was able to sit, stand and walk around without much difficulty. She was overjoyed with her renewed mobility after hip replacement surgery.

This article was originally written in 2018, and has been updated for accuracy in 2021.
It has been written with inputs from Dr. Vikas J. Seth, Senior Consultant, Orthopedics at Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research.

Dr. Vikas J. Seth
Experience: 20 years
Degrees: MBBS, NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences, Nagpur (1997), MS Ortho GSVM Medical College, Kanpur (2004), MRCS, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh (2007)