Hip Replacement Surgery and the Elderly

Hip Replacement Surgery is a procedure that replaces a worn out or damaged hip joint.  Damaged bone and cartilage are replaced with metal, ceramic or plastic parts.  The surgery helps to relieve hip pain that can’t be controlled by other treatments.  The surgery itself can be quite involved taking a few hours.


How do you know if you need a Hip Replacement?

One of the main causes of hip pain is arthritis.  Signs of arthritis in the hip may not be obvious at first as people often have pain in their groin.  If however, you do have arthritis symptoms with severe pain that cannot be relieved by any medication, and the pain interferes with your daily life and activities then it’s time to see a Specialist and consider a Hip Replacement.


What are the symptoms?

  • You are regularly taking painkillers to deal with the pain, especially at night.
  • Stiffness of the joints.
  • Tenderness in the hip area.
  • Clicking or crunching sounds as you move.
  • Inability or difficulty doing day to day activities.


The different types of Hip Replacement Surgery.

  • Total Hip Replacement – the ball of the hip and the socket of the hip joint are both replaced.
  • Partial Hip Replacement – only replaces the ball on the end of the thigh bone.
  • Hip Resurfacing – the surface head of the hip is replaced, rather than the whole ball.


Are there risks?

With any surgery there are risks that should be discussed with your Surgeon.

During hip replacement surgery, the damaged bone and cartilage are removed from the hip joint.  These are replaced with metal and plastic parts.  Whilst Hip Replacement Surgery is safe, infection is the most serious risk.  Other risks could include blood clots in the leg or pelvis or accidental hip dislocation during or even after recovery.


How long do Hip Replacements last?

Generally speaking, between 10 and 20 years.  Results will vary on the type of implant and the age of the patient.


Recovery from Hip Replacement Surgery.

Short-term recovery is around 4-6 weeks and is when a patient no longer needs to use painkillers, can walk without pain and sleep comfortably at night.

Long-term recovery is around six months.  This involves the complete healing of the surgical wounds and affected internal tissues.  When your elderly loved one has resumed their normal activities in their daily life they have completely recovered from the surgery.


Tips to help recovery.

  • Prepare! It’s important to prepare your home before surgery.  Remove potential hazards such as rugs and cords that could be tripped on.  Re-arrange furniture so a walker can easily manoeuvre around.  Place items such as medications, TV Remote and Mobile phone within easy reach, to eliminate the need to keep getting up and down in the initial recovery phase.
  • Focus on healthy eating and avoid weight gain! Any weight increase can place additional stress on a new joint, therefore making it more difficult to regain typical movement patterns.
  • It’s important to get moving as soon as you get the ok from your Doctor. Moving not only promotes joint mobility, but it increases blood flow, which helps to speed up the healing process.
  • Seeing a Physiotherapist or going to recommended recovery exercise classes are a crucial step to recovery. This will help to see your strength and mobility are fully restored over time.  It’s important to do the daily exercises that your therapist gives you!
  • It’s imperative to keep any swelling to a minimum. Taking medication, elevating, icing or wearing compression socks are vital to minimise any swelling.


It’s key to let the process of recovery take it’s time and not rush it.  You may need to assist your elderly loved one with errands or outsource to someone who can assist for a while.  Whilst hip replacement surgery is a common operation, the recovery time is going to be slower for the elderly.  Before you know it though, they will be almost as good as new!

A number of  Homestyle residents have had hip replacement surgery and are able to participate in our activities and excursions.  We are able to adjust their activity accordingly in our Lifestyle Program to accommodate this.  If you would like to know more about our homes and accommodation options, please call our dedicated Admission Team on 1300 104 663  or visit out site here.



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