A Brand-New Hip
Hip replacements are becoming much more popular, particularly among aging Americans. The goal of surgery is to replace the ball-and-socket hip joint with prosthetics. The prosthetic joint decreases pain and increases movement, significantly improving the quality of life. An orthopedic surgeon will often perform a direct anterior hip replacement as opposed to other techniques. This strategy has a significant impact on the recovery time.
When should you consider direct hip replacement?
If a doctor considers hip replacement, the patient has arthritis or long-term damage from a past injury. Arthritis is the wear and tear of the cartilage that prevents the bones from rubbing. Over time, this can cause pain, stiffness, and even weaken the joint, requiring surgery. Hip replacements aren’t for everyone as many respond well to conservative treatment. However, if arthritis severely impacts the quality of life and prevents simple functions, surgery can help. Doctors may also suggest surgery if there is subsequent damage on X-ray images or alternate test results.
Traditional vs direct hip replacement
If the patient and doctor agree that the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks, the surgery will proceed. The surgeon will perform either open or minimally invasive surgery, with minimally invasive being the preferred standard. Most hip replacements happen from the side, known as lateral hip replacement. In some cases, the surgeon can take a posterior approach from the back of the body. Direct anterior hip replacement, however, happens from the front of the hip. This technique allows the surgeon to use a minimally invasive approach.
Direct hip replacement means faster recovery
Direct hip replacement has the distinct advantage of avoiding significant muscles and tendons. The lateral or posterior approach must cut or detach muscles in the surrounding region. Using a direct anterior approach means less muscle and tissue damage. That means the patient will experience less pain, discomfort, and a faster recovery. The muscles can also support the new hip, reducing the chances of dislocations. After surgery, patients go through recovery and rehabilitation, which should be shorter than other methods.
Recovery, pain management, and physical therapy
With any surgical procedure, there is a recovery period. Based on the type of surgery, recovery starts for a few days in the hospital. With direct anterior surgery, the process is minimally invasive. This means the patient will likely be able to leave the same day. The goal within the first week is to manage pain and slowly rehabilitate the joint. This process can take about 2 weeks. From the 2-week mark, the doctor will suggest further meetings with a physical therapist. Combined with pain management, physical therapy ensures a high success and satisfaction rate.
Here’s when to expect a full recovery
Because of the direct approach, the hip replacement should heal quickly. With consistent pain management and physical therapy, patients can resume activities like driving and desk work after 2-3 weeks. Heavy lifting and manual jobs can take much longer, up to 12 weeks. Follow the doctor’s advice and observe pain after these activities. In the 3-6-month period, physical activities like sports are possible. Although the replacement will reduce pain and improve movement, doctors recommend restricted contact sports.
Your hip deserves direct treatment
For eligible patients, a direct anterior approach to hip replacement is best. The procedure uses small incisions and can avoid cutting into major muscles and tendons. This approach means significantly reduced recovery time and post-operative pain. Most patients could expect to resume basic activities within 2-3 weeks. However, resuming physical activities like sports and manual labor can take up to 3 months. If hip pain impacts the quality of life, speak with a doctor about direct anterior hip replacement.