Hip osteoarthritis (OA) causes severe disability and pain. If hip OA is treated successfully with a total hip arthroplasty, patients will have significant improved quality of life.
Researchers conducted a follow-up study to assess the quality of life and functionality of 250 people an average of 16 years after total hip replacement. The Harris Hip Score, WOMAC screening, Functional Comorbidity Index, and the SF-36 questionnaire were used to assess the participants. The questionnaire showed that the results compared positively with results from untreated persons with severe hip arthritis. In addition, patients reported a 96% post-operative satisfaction rate.
In this study, hip function and comorbidities were found to be the most important determinants of physical measures on the SF-36. Additionally, patients who had undergone total hip replacement had some long-term impaired quality of life and hip functionality, but they did perform significantly better than untreated patients.
What to Expect
During the recovery period, there are some things you can do to improve recovery outcomes and quality of life after the hip replacement. These include:
- Wound care: During home recovery, you should keep the wound area dry and clean, and dress it according to doctor’s instructions.
- Swelling: Mild to moderate swelling may occur up to 3 months post-surgery. To reduce selling, you must elevate your leg slightly and use ice packs. Wearing compression stockings can help to decrease leg swelling.
- Medications: Take all medications as directed by your doctor. Use pain medicine before physical therapy sessions to improve participation during the exercises. In addition, avoid any over-the-counter drugs and supplements that could interfere with prescribed medicines.
- Weight-bearing: Use a walker, crutches, or cane as recommended by your physical therapist. Full weight-bearing is often allowed right after surgery, but this depends on the doctor’s choice and your health status.
- Driving: It is not safe to resume driving until you quit taking pain medication. In addition, you should wait until your strength and reflexes return to normal. Usually, you can resume driving after 3 weeks.
- Sexual activity: Please consult your doctor about resuming sexual activities, as this varies for each patient. Depending on the type of surgery you have undergone, sexual activity is restricted for several weeks.
- Return to work: If you have a sedentary job, you may be able to resume work activities within a few weeks. This decision will be made by the orthopedic surgeon depending on your progress in rehabilitation.
The Longevity of a New Hip
Total hip replacement is one of the most successful orthopedic surgeries done today. However, people are having hip replacements at a younger age, and wearing of the new joint surface can become a problem after 15-20 years. Revision surgery is becoming more common to maintain quality of life. This involves repeating the surgery, only this time, the artificial components are replaced with new ones.
If medication and physical therapy does not relieve pain and disability, or if the new hip shows damaged around the artificial components, the surgeon may consider revision surgery for you. This is done when bone loss, wearing of joint surfaces, or joint loosing occurs. Hip revision may be required after infection, fracture, or injury to the joint.
Galasso O, Costa GG, Recano P, & Cerbasi S (2011). Quality of life and functionality after total hip arthroplasty: a long-term follow-up study. BMC Musculoskel Dis, 12, 222.