August 30th, 2012 at 10:10 am
Bookmark and Share

Hip replacement surgery to reclaim mobility

by Dorian Martin

Dad had hip replacement surgery when he was 67 years old. The surgery went smoothly and, surprisingly to me, the medical staff had him up and walking the next day.

“I had pain when walking before the surgery, but no pain after it. The surgery eliminated the pain,” Dad said.

Twenty years later, he still is going strong. While he has difficulty at times lifting his leg when lying down because his hip feels heavy, he hasn’t described any other problems. “It’s held up remarkably well,” Dad marveled about the artificial joint.

Reasons for hip replacement

This surgery is most common for people between the ages of 60 and 80. Often, physicians perform the procedure to relieve the pain and disability caused by osteoarthritis, which breaks down the cartilage in the hip joint. The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging explains that damage from injuries, fractures, bone tumors, rheumatoid arthritis and osteonecrosis can also lead to the need for a hip replacement.

People who decide to have this surgery often suffer from the following symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  1. Persistent hip pain, even though the person is taking pain medication
  2. Pain that worsens while walking, even when using a cane or walker
  3. Problems sleeping due to hip pain
  4. Difficulty negotiating stairs
  5. Issues getting up from a seated position
  6. Inability to join in activities because of hip pain

Doctors often start with medications and physical therapy to treat hip issues before recommending surgery. The National Institute on Aging notes that it’s natural for older adults to be hesitant about having surgery, but if less invasive treatments have not helped, hip replacement may relieve pain and restore function.

Questions about hip replacement surgery

For those with concerns about the procedure, the Mayo Clinic confirms that the implants are designed to be accepted by the body and to resist corrosion, degradation and wear. The artificial joint consists of a ball component made of metal or ceramic and a socket made of plastic, ceramic or metal.

The associated risks include blood clots, infection, fracture, dislocation, loosening of the artificial joint from the bone, breakage of the artificial joint, change in leg length, joint stiffening, and wear-and-tear over time. If the artificial joint wears out, the elder may eventually need a second hip replacement surgery.

Unlikely candidates for the surgery include people who are in poor physical health or at high risk for infection, according to the NIH Senior Health website. Also, patients with Parkinson’s disease or conditions that cause severe muscle weakness could damage or dislocate an artificial hip. For individuals with memory loss or dementia, the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center has tips for caregivers on how to plan for medical procedures.

So if an elder has hip pain, you can take a look at the Senior Health website and also consult with the elder’s primary care physician and an orthopedic surgeon. And if the surgery does move forward, use my dad as a role model to show how this surgery can help an elder regain mobility.

Posted in Caregiving, Health | 2 Comments »
Tags: ,

2 Comments to “Hip replacement surgery to reclaim mobility”

  1. Sims

    Starting the day with arthritis. I have osteoarthritis and a transient form of rheumatoid arthritis. I wake up most mornings feeling very stiff and tight—head, neck, shoulders, back, and hips. It takes me about 2 hours before my body is ready to move. What I’m doing to help this: 2 ibuprofen at bedtime; large cup of hot tea in the morning; hot shower. My problem is that these 2 hours are lost time that I can’t spare. I’m a morning person and need to get going early and get a lot done by noon. My best days are the rare days when I feel relatively good when I get up and am able to exercise right away. That gives me energy for the rest of the day. On the other days (the majority), I drag through the day feeling lethargic. I’m tired by noon and spend most of the afternoon napping and watching TV, which causes depression. I want the first two hours of the day to be “power hours.” I hate having to use that time to recover from sleep! That’s ridiculous. MY QUESTION: How can I work around my arthritis to inject more energy into my early morning hours? How can I get moving faster? I am planning to switch over to an Arthritis Pain Management program.

  2. Sims

    My sciatica subsided with physical therapy and doing my exercises for strengthening and stretching. I also have a small leg-length discrepancy, so I have a 1/4′ heel lift in one shoe. What helped your hip pain/sciatica? Share your experiences…

Leave a Reply