Total hip replacement surgery can provide long term benefits to those living with decreased mobility.

Hip replacement surgery has emerged over the years as a primary example of how effective wound care can change the course of a person’s life. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, every year there are more than 285,000 hip replacement surgeries conducted in the U.S. Generally speaking, hip replacement surgery consists of doctors working to repair cartilage damage that ultimately forces joints in the hip bones to break down over time. Once a hip component is fitted and inserted into a socket, then new bone eventually grows to fill the openings in the joints that attach to the leg bones.

There are currently 2.5 million Americans living with an artificial hip, and the percentages of individuals aged 45 to 64 who have had the surgery conducted on them has increased 123 percent since the year 2000. While the procedure will temporarily limit mobility and impact your lifestyle for a short duration, artificial hip joints are typically projected to last for anywhere between 10 to 20 years without loosening, which can prevent unforeseen wounds and injuries from occurring in the future. Here are some insights and tips regarding how hip replacement surgery can improve your condition, what to expect during the surgical wound care process and how to properly recover after treatment is completed:

Benefits of having a hip replacement

The ability to regain proper mobility is the primary motivation for a hip replacement, and there are a number of upsides that come along with going through surgery. In a study presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, researchers analyzed more than 43,000 patients who were suffering from osteoarthritis of the hip from 1998 through 2009. The doctors found that those who underwent total hip replacement surgery were greatly reducing their chances of heart failure, diabetes and depression compared to those who avoided treatment.

Dr. Scott Lovald, a researcher at Exponent Inc. and lead author of the study, expressed the satisfaction he felt through his team’s research, encouraging those hesitant with the process that the surgery can vastly improve a person’s overall quality of life.

“The study has demonstrated that THR confers a potential long-term benefit in terms of prolonged lifespan and reduced burden of disease in Medicare patients with osteoarthritis of the hip,” Lovald said in a statement.

Recovering after surgery

As with most surgical operations, the first few days after receiving a total hip replacement are by far the most difficult, requiring at least a few days of being bedridden. Upon awakening after surgery, you may have a catheter so that you don’t have to get up to use the restroom. While people are normally able to get out of bed after a few days with the assistance of a cane or crutches, it is heavily advised to limit your mobility while your body is adjusting to the treatment. Some simple precautions to consider post-surgery include:

  • Sleep on your back
  • Avoid sitting on low chairs, beds or toilets
  • Do not cross your legs while seated
  • Never raise your knee above your hip
  • Continue to use crutches or walking cane until you can fully support your own weight

For 10-14 days after your hip replacement surgery, you will have stitches from where the surgical incision was made. These stitches will require a wound dressing and need to be changed every few days to keep the skin clean and dry. Bandages should be changed immediately if they become wet or dirty. The recommended dressing for your stitches is a transparent film dressing, due to its ability to extend to hard to reach areas as well as minimize air exposure, which could lead to infection within the stitches.

When changing the bandages, you will need to keep an eye on your stitches to make sure that a wound infection isn’t developing. Your stitches could be at risk for infection if:

  • rapid swelling occurs.
  • pus or profuse bleeding comes from the wound.
  • you have warm sensations around the stitched area.
  • a strong odor emerges from the wound.
  • you suffer a sudden fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Life with a new hip

It’s generally estimated that after six to eight weeks, patients can resume their full-time activities, although it is extremely advised to forgo more arduous forms of physical activity such as jogging or tennis for quite some time. Staying active after wounds have fully healed is essential to the wound healing process, and frequently finding time to go for a walk, swim or play a round of golf will aid your strength and flexibility.