How to Prepare for a Total Hip Replacement
Osteoarthritis Most Common Reason for a Hip Replacement
Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for needing a total hip replacement. There are also emergency circumstances that sometimes lead to a total hip replacement like after a hip fracture from an accident or a fall.
Osteoarthritis Affects Most Seniors by Age 70
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is found in most seniors by age 70, although it can begin at any age. Basically, cartilage that acts as a cushion in the joints between the bones wears out and this can reach the point where there is none left and bone rubs against bone. There is no real cure for it and it usually progresses. The most common symptoms are pain, swelling and stiffness, especially after getting out of bed in the morning. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine. Seniors that are obese tend to suffer more, as their joints have to bear much more weight than they were created for.
While some people have osteoarthritis without a lot of pain, many seniors need to take pain killers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While these may stop the inflammation that leads to pain, NSAIDs have very dangerous side effects and prolonged use can lead to heart failure, liver failure and kidney failure. They also can cause bleeding ulcers and in fact can lead to hemorrhaging brain strokes.
Safer Methods to Control Pain of Osteoarthritis
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains a substance called oleocanthol which acts like ibuprofen, but does not have the same dangerous side effects. Just the opposite, in fact, as EVOO has been scientifically proven to prevent heart disease. EVOO can also be massaged into the inflamed joints.
- Acupuncture has been shown to help many who suffer from osteoarthritis and this is a safe non-pharmacological way to deal with pain.
- Physical therapy and physical exercise, especially water therapy and swimming can also help to manage osteoarthritis.
- Research has shown that a substance in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts called sulforaphane can prevent cartilage degeneration from osteoarthritis.
- Using a cane, crutch or walker can help with walking and in fact can sometimes stop the progression of the hip arthritis.
- A memory foam mattress can ease pressure points when resting or sleeping.
- Losing weight can also give a lot of relief especially to the weight-bearing joints.
- Sitting in a soft chair rather than a hard one can help, especially if it has a memory foam cushion on it.
Surgery May be Necessary when all Non-surgical Treatments Fail
While surgery should be a last resort, when all non-surgical treatments have failed to stop the pain, it is a route that many will take on the recommendation of their orthopedic surgeons. However, not all sufferers of osteoarthritis will be able to get the doctor’s approval. There are some seniors who are very weak and frail and/or have health problems that disqualify them from having a total hip replacement with general anesthesia. The operation usually takes about a two and a half hours.
Steps to Take before the Operation
Ask the surgeon as many questions as you need to. Ask about any possible risks, especially with the anesthesia. Ask the doctor what pre-surgery things you must do. He may give a list of certain kinds of drugs and tell you when to stop taking them before the operation. These are especially likely to be non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which you or your loved one may have been taking to manage the pain and swelling from your arthritis like aspirin and ibuprofen. These have anticoagulant properties that can interfere with normal blood clotting. If you are taking very strong opioids for pain, your doctor may also tell you that you need to cut down on them gradually and be completely free of them by the time of the operation. Your doctor may also tell you when to stop drinking alcoholic drinks.
Also, be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any medicinal herbs, as many of these can also interfere with normal blood clotting such as ginger, ginkgo, licorice root. and more. Also, sedative herbs can interact dangerously with the anesthesia. Even some vegetables like purslane can cause very serious bleeding.
You may be advised to give your own blood before the operation, so in case you need blood your own blood can be given to you.
Your doctor may advise you to try to quit smoking before the operation.
If you suffer from other chronic or serious diseases, you should confer with other doctors who treat you to let them know you are going to have a hip replacement.
If you will be recovering at home, it would be a good idea to sleep in the downstairs of your home, so that you will not need to use stairs.
Buy a seat to raise your toilet seat. Have grab bars put next to the toilet. Also, have grab bars put around the bath and shower stall. Arrange to have a chair put in the shower that has a strong back. Also, a long-handled sponge will help you or your loved one bathe.
A hand-held shower hose is a must so you can easily wash all parts of your body.
Buy a reacher. This is a long-handled retractable device that allows you to pick things up from the floor without bending over. Some of them have magnetic tips so that you can easily pick up metal items. This can also help you dress by pulling up socks or pants.
Make sure to have some shoes that do not have tie laces.
Buy a long-handled shoe horn so that you can put on shoes without having to bend over.
After the surgery you or your loved one will need a cane or walker to get around, which you may be able to get from the hospital. It is a good idea to practice using these devices before you have the operation.
Make arrangements for rehabilitation that you or your loved one will need after the surgery. The sooner rehabilitation is begun and it should begin in the hospital, the sooner will be the recovery. You might decide the best option for you or your loved one is to go to a short-term rehab like the Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn NY. Ditmas Park a 5 star facility that is known far and wide for its expertise in rehabilitation.
Brooklyn Hospitals near Ditmas Park Rehab and Care
NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)
Osteoarthritis is the main reason for most hip replacement operations. Hip replacement surgery, when successful, can do a lot to help regain good motor function. However, this will not cure osteoarthritis and it pays to do as much as possible to stop the progress of osteoarthritis, so that there will not need to be more hip or knee replacement operations.