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Caregiverlist Care Brief: Hip Replacement

What Is It? A total hip replacement is a surgical procedure which replaces the diseased cartilage and bone with artificial materials. A metal ball and stem are inserted into the femur bone and an artificial plastic cup socket. These artificial parts are referred to as the “prosthesis”.

Symptoms: Severe arthritis, bony fractures of the hip joint and death of the hip bone all lead to chronic pain and impairment of daily functions which qualify a patient to total hip replacement. Risks of hip replacement include blood clots in the lower extremeities that can travel to the lungs. Other problems are difficulty with urination, local skin or joint infection, fracture of the bone during and after surgery, scarring and limitation of motion of the hip which can lead to prosthesis failure.

Treatments: As early as 1 to 2 days after surgery, the hip replacement patient may be able to stand, sit on the edge of the bed and walk with assistance. A physical therapist will teach the patient exercises that will improve recovery and strengthen the hip. Due to limited range of motion with the new hip, the therapist will also teach the patient proper techniques for activities of daily living such as bending and sitting. An exercise program with muscle strengthening exercises and range-of-motion activities will be prescribed. Recommended exercises usually include cross-country skiing, swimming, walking and stationary bicycling.