Hip Recovery and Potential Complications

Hip Replacement Surgery Recovery

Typically, patients stay in the hospital for three to four days, but this varies a bit since every patient progresses at his or her own rate. After surgery, it is natural to feel some pain, but this is usually managed adequately with medication. Being physically active is an important part of recovery. Some discomfort with activity and at night is common for several weeks.

Senior with Walker

Rehabilitation and recovery includes:

  • An assistive walking device such as a walker or cane should be used until you feel comfortable.
  • A gradual walking program to slowly increase your mobility, initially inside your home and later outside.
  • Resuming normal household activities, such as sitting, standing, and climbing stairs.
  • Specific exercises a few times a day to restore movement and strengthen your hip. The first few weeks after surgery, a physical therapist may visit you at home, or you will receive treatment at a therapy center. You should continue to do these exercises on your own.
  • Within three to six weeks, most normal physical activities can be resumed on a daily basis.

Potential Complications

As with any surgery, there is always the potential for risks during and after the procedure. The most serious complication is a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung), which can cause respiratory failure and death. Since the procedure requires general anesthesia, that comes with its own risks, although these are rare.

It is important to contact your orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible if you notice any of the following signs and symptoms after being discharged from the hospital. If you have any symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, this is a medical emergency and 911 should be called. Early, acute post-operative complications following total hip replacement include:

  • Blood loss requiring transfusion
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Infections
  • Excessive joint bleeding
  • Fractures
  • Hematoma (clotted collection of blood that can swell)
  • Joint or skin infections
  • Joint replacement dislocations
  • Sciatic nerve injury
  • Scarring
  • Range of motion limitations
  • Unequal leg lengths
  • Blood vessel injury
  • Joint stiffness
  • Metal sensitivity
  • Loosening of the prosthesis (which leads to failure)

Late-onset complications following total hip arthroplasty may include:

  • Skin necrosis, a rare, but serious complication related to anticoagulants requires drainage and possibly surgery.
  • Persistent joint drainage that occurs in the weeks following surgery is often treated with joint aspiration, antibiotics, or debridement and joint lavage. The latter is a combined procedure in which fluids are injected into the joint to wash it, followed by a small vacuum being inserted to remove any blood, fluid, or loose debris.
  • Patients with hematomas are often advised by the surgeon to rest and ice the hip joint to reduce swelling, as well as discontinue anticoagulant use. If the hematoma does not resolve, surgical evacuation may be warranted.
  • Wounds healing too slowly in the first few weeks after surgery can be an issue for some patients. Risk factors for this complication include long-term steroid or chemotherapy treatment, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and smoking. The signs and symptoms include increased joint swelling, pain, and redness in the joint or incision site.
  • Heterotrophic ossification is a common side effect of surgery in which extra bone develops outside the joint, but in the majority of patients, it is asymptomatic.

Total Hip Replacement Outcomes

  • Published results of total hip arthroplasty demonstrate excellent clinical, functional, and radiographic results. It is important to keep in mind that there are a myriad of factors that can influence outcome, including the type of implant, surgical technique, fixation method, biomaterials, patient’s age and overall health, etc.
  • Serious infections, such as a hip joint infection, occur in less than 2% of patients.
  • Studies have shown hip dislocation rates that vary depending on the surgical approach; anterior lateral, 0.70%, lateral 0.43%, and posterior lateral with soft tissue repair 1.01%, respectively.

If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic hip pain, contact Health City Cayman Islands today. We have world-class orthopedic surgeons and cost savings that make us a great choice for total hip replacement surgery.

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