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What to expect from hip replacement surgery

If you suffer from hip pain, you may be considering hip replacement surgery. More than 300,000 hip replacements are performed in the United States each year. Russell Flint, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at Piedmont, says there are a variety of reasons a person may need the surgery, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or avascular necrosis.

Dr. Flint says hip pain – whether it’s in the side, front or back of the hip – brings patients to his office. Pain in the back of the hip typically stems from the back, while pain on the side is often bursitis-related.

Groin pain or pain that radiates into the top of the thigh is usually related to arthritis. People with this type of pain are often good candidates for hip replacement surgery.

Conservative treatments for hip pain

When a patient is first diagnosed with arthritis in the hip, Dr. Flint recommends conservative treatments, like using a cane, medication, heat or exercise to relieve symptoms.

“People do fairly well with that up to a point,” he says. “At some point, the pain is so bad they can’t walk. I don’t think I’ve ever told a patient they had to have a replacement. People will know when it’s time. That time arrives when you can hardly walk 100 or 200 yards without pain or you wake up several times a night with pain. Nothing helps anymore.”

A typical hip replacement experience

For a routine hip replacement, a patient will usually:

  • Arrive at the hospital the day of surgery.
  • Spend most of the day recuperating from the anesthetic and surgery.
  • At least be able to sit in a chair, if not walk a few steps, by the evening.
  • Begin intensive physical therapy the next day.
  • Be able to walk 100 to 200 feet by the next evening.

Improvement in surgery incisions

“Not only are wounds smaller nowadays, but we tend to use less invasive means for closing [the incision site],” says Dr. Flint. “I haven’t used staples in two years. The means of gluing wounds together is cosmetically acceptable and very benign. Patients are typically very happy with that.”

Improvement in everyday life after hip replacement

When patients see Dr. Flint two months post-surgery, they often tell him how the procedure has improved their lives.

“Now they can walk, now they can sleep. They’ve already had substantially improved quality of life,” he says. “People don’t have to suffer with hip pathology. There are good surgical solutions for this problem.”

For more information about hip replacement or other joint replacement surgeries, click here

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