Arthritis occurs when the smooth articular cartilage that lines the joint surfaces becomes damaged and starts wearing out. As the damage accumulates the cartilage roughens and thins, which eventually leads to pain and stiffness.
If your symptoms are affecting your daily activities and sleep, despite adequate non-surgical treatment, it may be time to consider a hip replacement.
A total hip replacement (THR) is a very effective treatment for advanced osteoarthritis of the hip. It helps relieve pain and restore motion.
The surgery itself involves a 10-15cm incision over the outside of your hip. The hip joint is then exposed and the head is removed, the cup is relined with a metal socket with a plastic or ceramic socket and the head is replaced with a metal or ceramic ball attached to a metal stem, which is implanted in to the femur (thigh bone). The joint is then put back into the place and the wounds closed and dressed.
There are a number of different bearing surfaces employed in total hip replacements, Mr Lee uses either cobalt-chrome on plastic or ceramic-on-ceramic. The choice is tailored to your individual demands on your hip.
After surgery, you will need to recover from the anaesthetic, but as soon as you feel comfortable the physiotherapists will come and assist you with first sitting up and then progress to sitting out of bed to taking your first steps. Usually you will be in hospital for four to five days as your mobility improves to a level that you will be safe at home. You may need to think about whether you will need some help at home for the first week or so.
A follow-up appointment with Mr Lee will be made, to review the wound and remove stitches.
Your mobility will improve over the course of the next few weeks and most patients will need crutches or a stick for the first six weeks. A lot of patients are able to drive at around six weeks; you have to be able to confidently perform an emergency stop to consider driving. Getting back to work may take up to 12 weeks depending on what activities your job entails, this is something Mr Lee will discuss with you. Your hip will continue to improve over the next few months.
If you would like to try your hand at a hip replacement, this educational website allows you to perform a virtual hip replacement! Though primarily aimed at children, it is a very informative resource.