Our hips carry the bulk of our body weight, and as we age we suffer from hip joint problems caused by daily wear and tear. Bones and cartilage get worn down and osteoarthritis of the hip develops, which results in pain when we move. The condition can limit mobility, create stiffness and other pain in the hips, and interfere generally with your life.
Hip surgery is known to be one of the most painful and difficult surgeries to recover from. While most people think immediately of a hip replacement surgery when hip problems are mentioned, there are other types of surgical interventions that doctors perform quite routinely.
Reasons for Hip Surgery
More than 300,000 people undergo hip replacement surgery in the U.S. each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. While total hip replacement is the best-known form of hip surgery, surgeons also perform hip resurfacing or partial hip replacement. A total hip replacement removes the affected bones and cartilage and replaces them with prosthetic implants.
Hip resurfacing or partial replacement removes only sections of affected bones and cartilage. The surgeon reshapes the damaged femoral head and caps it with an artificial piece, and fits a metal prosthesis in place of any damaged bone. This method is aimed at preserving as much bone as possible, to achieve a more natural-feeling joint.
In addition, patients often get surgery for hip repair, such as after a fracture. This involves stabilization of the bones with surgical plates and screws, and is only recommended if the bones can be aligned properly. Whatever type of surgery you get for hip joint problems, the fact is that it comes before a long road to recovery.
What to Expect After Hip Surgery
Regardless of the type of hip surgery you have, you can expect to have a fair amount of pain after the procedure. In the first couple of days after the surgery you’ll be asked to get out of bed with assistance and to start moving around using crutches or a walker. You’ll have appointments with physical and occupational therapists, who will teach you how to move with minimal pain. After a few days, if all goes well the hospital will discharge you and either send you home or to a rehab facility.
The Rehabilitation Process
The rehab period after hip surgery is probably the most difficult part of the whole experience. You’ll need to be patient and learn slowly how to move, and what activities are safe for you to do. Patients usually also require lots of rest and healing sleep, so be sure not to push yourself to try and recover too quickly. Our bones need regular sleep and the growth hormone generated during that sleep to knit together effectively, and there’s no real way to fast-track this process.
During rehabilitation for hip joint problems, you should:
- Keep the area around your incision as dry as possible to prevent infection, and avoid skin creams and lotions for the present
- Continue doing the prescribed physical therapy exercises on a daily basis,
- Move around often to prevent blood clots from forming,
- Watch your incision site closely for complications, such as the joint becoming dislocated or loose, or a change in the length of the affected leg.
Within two to three weeks after your release from hospital, the stitches or staples will be removed and you can start bathing and showering again. From week four onwards you should be able to start walking without help, and you will eventually return to your normal level of activity.
Strengthen Your Hip (and Other Joints) Naturally
Most of us would prefer to avoid surgery for either a fractured hip or a replacement, and sometimes we can do so. The earlier you start working to strengthen your hips and other joints naturally, the better your chances are of preventing hip fracture.
You could be at risk for hip joint problems if you have any of these conditions:
- Weak muscles resulting from an injury or inactive lifestyle.
- Carrying extra weight or obesity, which increases the pressure on the hips.
- Former hip injuries.
- Low bone density identified in tests.
- Conditions such as hip instability or osteoarthritis.
- Taking part in active sports, especially without warming up.
The ways you can reduce your risk for hip joint problems resemble many other conditions, and range from a healthy lifestyle and diet to regular exercise. If you’re overweight, speak with your doctor to discuss your options for reducing or strengthening your muscles.
If you have former hip injuries or either of the conditions listed above, get X-rayed and treated as early as possible to avoid the situation getting worse. Make sure you warm up your muscles well before participating in vigorous activities. This will help them to be strong enough to protect your joints and prevent pain in your hips.
You can also get your blood tested to make sure you have all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to build healthy bone. If any of the results come back showing deficiencies, take supplements to increase your intake of vital components, and to enhance the way your body uses them.
Get more information on how to prevent hip fractures or to rebuild after having hip surgery, or try Dr. Garber’s Natural Solution for Joint Health or Bone Strength. Both products use a combination of biotherapies made from naturally-sourced materials, aimed at strengthening your bones and joints in the first place.