What is a hip replacement?

Hip replacement surgery, also known as hip arthroplasty, is usually advised for severe hip pain and mobility difficulties due to arthritis, avascular necrosis or a fracture. With severe hip pain, quality of life can be affected as you may not be able to walk. This surgery is one of the most common orthopaedic procedures. Hip replacements are most commonly done for elderly patients since this joint carries a large portion of body weight and is easily fractured or broken as bone density decreases with age or due to medication and other conditions causing osteopenia. It can also be done for younger patients with sports injuries.

What does treatment involve?

Under general anaesthesia, Dr Heymans will make a large incision in the hip. To access the hip, the muscles that cover the bone will need to be detached. He will then remove the damaged femoral head from the acetabulum and the rest of the femur. The inside of the femur is then hollowed out to make space for the metal stem which is placed snugly inside. The prosthetic or artificial femoral head is then secured to the stem before the muscle in reattached in its correct position using screws.

What can I expect in terms of recovery?

You can expect severe swelling, pain and stiffness in the hip and leg after a hip replacement. After a few days, you will be asked to get up and begin with physiotherapy to get the hip joint moving and aid in the strengthening and increasing mobility of the hip joint. You should be able to return to normal activities in 6 - 8 weeks of surgery, but you will have to make some lifestyle changes. You will no longer be able to do heavy lifting, climbing or high-impact sports after the hip replacement. Full recovery after a hip replacement may take up to a year.