How a Hip Replacement Can Give You Back Your Mobility

by Bethany
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For most people, the process of aging isn’t anything you’re consciously aware of, certainly not on a daily basis. As an adult, your mind and thoughts are often just as youthful as they were 20 years ago. However, whether you’ve been living an active or a sedentary lifestyle, your bones may begin to wear down. Rheumatoid or traumatic arthritis, some of the most common forms of osteoarthritis, occurs in millions of people. Any number of degenerative hip diseases or hip fractures can cause decreased mobility and an increase in stiffness and pain.

How a Hip Replacement Can Give You Back Your Mobility

As the second largest weight-bearing joint in the body, the hip goes through years and multiple miles of wear and tear. Normally tough and sturdy, the bones in some people, seniors, in particular, begin to disintegrate, making some daily activities of life very difficult. It’s possible that that bad hip of yours should be replaced. Only your medical professional can make the final determination if this line of action is best for you. However, if you’ve been struggling with pain, finding it difficult to walk around as you once did, and now even bending down to reach for your shoes causes great discomfort, it might be that a hip replacement would improve your quality of life. Read through the rest of this article to see if it’s time for you consider having a hip replacement.

What Is a Hip Replacement?

Hip replacement is a procedure where a painful or diseased hip joint is surgically removed and replaced with a prosthesis. Also referred to as ‘arthroplasty’, the typical surgery takes around 60 to 90 minutes and is performed under general anesthesia or an epidural. The surgeon will remove the damaged or diseased sections of the hip joint, replacing them with metal, ceramic or a very hard plastic. During your consultations with your doctor, you can ask if a total or a hemi (or half) replacement is what you need.

A hip replacement is usually only considered after other treatments such as physical therapy and pain medications have been tried. Your daily activities are being hampered by the hip pain and reduced mobility. Something as simple as putting on your shoes and socks has become a challenging task, and taking a walk around the block is nearly impossible. Seniors who suffer from stiffness and joint pain in their hip may want to seriously consider having this surgery. The goal of a hip replacement is to bring about pain relief and the improvement of the patient’s hip function. Once you’ve come through the recovery period, you will find your mobility will have improved greatly.

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Who Needs a Hip Replacement?

When your pain medication is no longer giving you much relief and you’re walking with a limp or the assistance of a cane or walker, you may be a candidate for a hip replacement. Have you been dealing with a bad hip for months or even years? Maybe that bad or stiff hip has caused you to lose your balance and fall on more than one occasion. People who suffer from any of these afflictions or from arthritis, have suffered fractures, or have bone tumors that are breaking down the hip joint should consult with their physician to discuss the possibility of having a hip replacement.

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Increasing Your Mobility After Surgery

Under the supervision of a physical therapist, you’ll be able to start strengthening your muscles the day after surgery with exercise 20-30 minutes, twice a day. By the time you leave the hospital, they’ll make sure you can walk a short distance with a walker or on crutches, get in and out of bed, use the bathroom and get dressed by yourself. Back at home, you must continue the exercises your doctor prescribes. One of the best ways to continue to increase your mobility is to keep active. Within a few weeks after surgery, you’ll be able to walk short distances, and two months following your hip replacement, you should be back to normal walking, light aerobic kinds of exercise, riding your bike or swimming.

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Average Cost of a Hip Replacement

Patients who are covered by health insurance will have to pay a few thousand dollars out of pocket. With typical insurance a 20 percent copay for surgery and a $3000 out of pocket maximum, you could be required to pay the full $3000. A person with Medicare could expect their costs to be around $3957. This price would include the deductible and coinsurance costs. There are some hospitals that offer discounts to uninsured patients, so a hip replacement might run between $20,212 and $23,581. Please remember that each state has its own policies and prices. The type of insurance you have will also bear on the costs you will be required to pay.

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Finding a Hip Replacement Surgeon

In your search for an orthopedic surgeon, your primary care physician should be able to recommend a few people who have operated on some of their other patients. You should also ask friends who’ve had hip replacements how they felt about their surgeon and the outcome of the procedure. Before you meet with any potential surgeons, write down all the questions you have and take them with you. A good surgeon will take the time to answer your questions and address your concerns. You may also want to consider getting a second opinion and speak with a surgeon from a different practice and hospital.

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When to Get a Hip Replacement

There are several things that may cause you to think that it’s time to have a hip replacement. Does the pain in your hip disturb your daily activities? Does your hip hurt even when you aren’t putting any weight or stress on it? Maybe you already know that your hip joint is damaged or diseased. The longer you wait to have that hip replaced, the more damage could be done, making it more difficult for the surgeon to repair it. When you’ve decided that the stiffness and pain are more than you want to deal with, then it’s probably the right time for you to have this procedure.

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Recovery After Surgery

You will be taken to a recovery room for a few hours immediately following surgery where you’ll be monitored until you wake up, then returned to your hospital room. On the days after surgery and until your release, a physical therapist will work with you once or twice a day, guiding you through some simple exercises to help strengthen the hip joint. You will need to keep your hip movements restricted, but your physical therapist will teach you how to sit up, bend over and walk with your walker or crutches. You will also be instructed on how to care for the incision site once you’re back home. Each person and their recovery will be different. You’ll be instructed about the exercises you need to continue doing to regain your strength and physical mobility.