Hip-hippity-hip hip replacement: What a caregiver should know

Is your loved one going to undergo hip replacement surgery (HRS)? Or has he or she already had his/her hip replaced? There are certain things both caregiver and care receiver should know about this procedure. Chief among them is the fact that having your hip replaced doesn’t mean you’re no longer hip. Many cool people have had their hips replaced, such as Eddie Van Halen, Nick Nolte, Liz Taylor, Mick Mars, Hulk Hogan, Billy Joel, and many more. Oh, and Regis Philbin too, but he was never hip in the first place. Another useful tidbit; Discount Medical Supplies has home medical supplies available to help post-hip, knee, or back replacement surgery patients, for instance this hip replacement kit. Here’s more important info to become acquainted with:

Hip replacement facts

Who should have it.

People with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, avascular necrosis, bone tumors, and other conditions and injuries that cause the hip joint to wear down are among the most likely candidates for hip replacement surgery, especially when pain and disability disrupt daily living. However, joint damage should appear on x-ray tests before a physician recommends surgery. On the other hand, people with severe muscle weakness or Parkinson’s disease are at an increased risk of damaging or dislocating an artificial hip. Also, people are at high risk for infections or in poor health are least likely candidates. It was long-believed that HRS only became an option for people aged 60 or older, but younger individuals may benefit from it as well. The aforementioned Eddie Van Halen was only 44 when he underwent HRS.


Mobility aids:

·         Canes.

·         Walkers.

·         Rollators.


·         Medication.

·         Physical therapy.

·         Exercise.

Other surgeries:

·         Osteotomy.

Treatment alternatives do not always successfully relive pain or improve function.

What the procedure involves

The surgeon removes the affected bone tissue and cartilage from the hip joint and leaves the healthy areas intact. The head of the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum (a socket or cup-like structure in the pelvis, or hip bone) are replaced with artificial parts that permit the joint to move in a natural, gliding motion. These parts may be attached with the healthy parts with a special glue or cement (cemented procedure). The entire operation can last 2 or 3 hour.  

Cemented vs. uncemented

Uncemented procedure – as opposed to cemented – involves parts made with pores into which the patient’s own bone can grow. Uncemented prostheses may last longer for some patients because there is no cement to break away. Conversely, they do require a prolonged recovery period, and the process of natural bone growth may cause pain in the thigh. Cemented prostheses have been proven to decrease pain and improve mobility, and are often used for older, less active patients or patients with weakened bones.

What to expect afterward

Most people spend less than 10 days in the hospital, during which time the hip may be braced with pillows or a special device to keep it in a proper position. Meanwhile, the patient may be administered intravenous fluids to replace those lost during the procedure. Additionally, a tube may be placed close to the incision to drain fluid, as well as a catheter to drain urine. After leaving the hospital, the patient may take 3 to 6 months to fully recover.

Potential complications                    

·         Hip dislocation.

·         Inflammatory reaction to small particles that gradually wear off of the artificial joint surfaces and are absorbed by nearby tissues.

·         Infection.

·         Blood clots.

·         Heterotopic bone formation.

Recommended exercises

·         Cross-country skiing.

·         Swimming.

·         Walking.

·         Stationary bicycling.


Both caregiver and care receiver should heed their doctor’s advice throughout the hip replacement process – before and after surgery.

Related: Hip Replacement Done: What now?