hip replacement surgery in seniors

What You Need to Know About Hip Replacement Surgery And Recovery?

When your parent is experiencing pain from arthritis, it can often lead to hip replacement surgery. As this arthritis permeates the joints and causes pain, it can be difficult for your parent to move and get around. Having a hip replacement procedure can help reduce some of the pain symptoms that your parent is experiencing and give them back their freedom and range of motion.

If your parent is experiencing hip pain, it typically is caused by osteoarthritis. This is the breakdown of the cartilage at the hip area and can be painful for your parent to experience. As the hip-joint is affected by osteoarthritis, it can cause swelling and deformity in the hip, making it hard for your parent to move about.
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Hip Replacement Symptoms

The first sign that a person is experiencing osteoarthritis is difficulty walking. They may have a stabbing or intense pain in their joints, and it can be a challenge for them stand, walk or move for any duration of time. Stiffness can also occur, and pain can radiate to the knee, buttock, thigh or groin areas.

While the causes of osteoarthritis are not commonly known, it is thought that individuals that are overweight are more susceptible to needing a hip replacement surgery. Other factors can contribute to osteoarthritides such as injuries to the joints or genetic defects. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can help reduce the need for hip replacement surgery in seniors.

When your parent is experiencing osteoarthritis, they may have hip replacement symptoms such as:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Crunching or clicking sounds when moving
  • Inability to perform daily activities that use their hip-joint

If your parent is showing signs of these symptoms, a doctor will perform an X-ray to look at the hip area and determine if the loss of motion is occurring. If osteoarthritis is present, there may be a narrowing of the joint area in the X-ray and spurring occurring. This can lead to needing a hip replacement procedure to rectify the pain and create more movement for the patient.


Hip Replacement Procedure

Hip replacement surgery deals with the socket of the hip and typically replaces the ball joint. A metal ball is placed in hip socket to improve range of motion and prevent bone on bone friction.

With a hip replacement procedure, a person may also have their socket contoured for easier range of motion with the metal ball joint. This will include using a plastic liner and metal shell to recreate the hip-joint area.

hip replacement surgery

Hip Replacement Costs

While the cost of a hip replacement can be significant to a senior, it is a necessary treatment that can give them back their range of motion and allow them to walk easier.

According to insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield, the average cost of a hip replacement surgery is $39,299. Most insurances do cover the costs of a hip replacement surgery which can help with the financial aspect of the surgery. If a patient has Medicare, they can expect to pay up to $4000 with their deductible and coinsurance.

Insurance coverage typically covers the assessment, X-rays, and surgical procedure of a hip replacement. Additional coverage is provided, with most insurances, for hospital stays and recovery time. It may be necessary for a senior to spend additional money outfitting their home to accommodate getting around assisted after hip surgery. This could include the installation of handrails on stairs and in the shower and bath. Cushions may be needed for comfort and assistance may be needed during the recovery time for additional care.

Aftercare for a senior after hip replacement surgery is typically not covered by their insurance and additional planning will need to occur to ensure they have the assistance they need through the recovery process. A family, friend or in-home nurse should stay with your parent during the recovery phase after they have had a hip replacement procedure.

While the out of pocket costs for the hip replacement surgery may be several thousands of dollars, the relief from pain and additional mobility a person will receive, make it a wise investment into their health. They will soon be getting around without additional assistance, and they will experience relief from the hip deterioration they were experiencing.

Hip Replacement Recovery Time

After hip replacement surgery, a senior may be anxious to get back to their normal routine. Recovery time can be quick for some as a movement after the surgery occurs in as little as two days. Most patients are fully recovered in as little as one to six months.

Short term recovery allows for a senior to get out of bed and begin walking short distances on their own. Pain medication is tapered off during this period which can last as little as four to six weeks. During this time, a patient will go from assisted walking to taking short strolls down the block and back without needing to rest or experiencing any pain.

Initial movement after surgery should be made with precaution as a fall or injury could significantly damage the hip-joint. Stairs should be avoided until the joint is properly healed and a walking aid should be used at all times during the recovery process until cleared by a doctor. It is a good idea to have rails installed in areas where a senior will be moving around and need additional assistance and support. Crutches, canes, and walkers can also be used to provide assistance during walking and doing household chores.

Longer-term recovery involves the recuperation of the surgery site. Incisions and tissue are typically recovered in six months, and all normal activity can be resumed. Incisions will need to be cleaned on a daily basis, and the uses of ointments, lotions, and creams should be avoided to ensure that an infection doesn’t occur.

The staples from the incision will be removed in as little as 14 days, and the incision will then be able to heal more effectively. Pain may occur at the incision site, but this can be managed by icing the area and keeping it covered.

The total amount of time for hip replacement recovery can be minimal if the proper care and directions are followed. Before a senior knows it, they will be performing their daily routine and living their normal life.

Pain After Hip Replacement

The road to recovery for a senior that has had hip replacement surgery may need additional assistance from you as a caregiver. While there can be the pain after having an invasive surgery such as a hip procedure, with a little care the pain can be managed and a full recovery can be made.

After hip replacement surgery, a patient is up and moving very quickly. While this doesn’t mean that they can do their normal everyday activities, the time recovery time can be minimal if the proper care is administered.

Patients that have a hip replacement surgery need to plan on getting plenty of rest during their recovery time. The pain associated with the surgery will typically dissipate after 10 days and be getting around with the assistance of a walker may occur as soon as four weeks into recovery. Normal activity typically can resume in five to six weeks after the surgery.

During the recovery time, pain can be managed through medication. Painkillers will be prescribed to help with the pain from a hip replacement surgery and can be taken for as long as 12 weeks to help deal with the pain. It is important that an individual use these medications to help treat the pain a senior is experiencing as swelling can be unbearable and cause discomfort, especially in the evening hours.

Icing the hip area after a hip replacement surgery can also help to reduce the pain. By using ice gel packs, you can help to keep swelling to a minimum, and in combination with the medication a senior is taking, it can work to provide comfort after the surgery.

Additional comfort from pain can be found by keeping the hip area elevated. This works to reduce swelling and can make a person more comfortable from pain after hip replacement surgery. Pillows and cushions are recommended as acceptable elevating devices.

After a senior has physical therapy to help with the healing of the hip-joint, they may be sorer and have more pain. Taking pain medication before therapy can help to reduce the discomfort from these exercises and provide some additional relief afterward.

Exercise After Hip Replacement

It is imperative that a senior continue to exercise the hip-joint after hip replacement surgery. This may cause some discomfort at first, but it will reduce over time. Keeping the joint flexible is key, and building muscle strength after surgery can make moving around easier.

Exercise after hip replacement can also reduce blood clots and can be an effective way to speed recovery time.

Exercise shouldn’t be attempted until a doctor has had the post follow-up appointment and cleared a senior for exercise. Maintaining the exercises that the doctor has prescribed into a senior’s daily routine. Exercises should be performed on both legs to balance strength and flexibility and increase the range of motion.

Try having your parent that has had hip replacement surgery perform exercises that increase hip strength and flexibility by using elastic bands to create resistance. Many of these exercises can be performed lying down or in a chair. Try using an elastic a band around the thighs and spreading the legs back and forth. Bands can also be placed on the ankles and used to pull legs forward. Laying exercises can strengthen the hip by elevating one leg at a time towards the buttocks.

While these exercises may be difficult at first to accomplish, over time, they will produce more mobility, and additional reps may be added to increase strength and endurance. Be sure to be mindful of pain and discomfort when performing new exercises and always consult with your physician before trying any exercises that haven’t been recommended.

Caring For A Senior After Hip Replacement Surgery

Caring for your parent after they have had hip replacement surgery will require some dedication on your part. It may be several weeks before your parent is up and doing normal everyday activities. They will certainly need additional care after they have had the surgery and this should be planned out before the surgery occurs.

While the hospital stay after a hip replacement surgery is as little as three days, a senior will need care for as long as three to six weeks. A patient will be up and be moving in a day or two, but they will need additional assistance when at home doing chores and keeping themselves fed. Cooking, cleaning, and bathing will need to be accomplished by a caregiver as a senior that has had a hip replacement surgery will not be able to attend to these activities for a few weeks.

Make sure your parent will be left in the care of a family member or friend to help them during the recovery process and ensure they have the support they need after the surgery. A senior will not be able to drive for three to six weeks until they have been cleared by a physician, making them rely on you for their needs.

Having a plan in place to care for your parent after hip replacement surgery can make the recovery process easier for them and yourself. You may need to get the help of a nurse to care for your parent and make sure they are performing their physical therapy as prescribed. Keep in mind that most insurances don’t provide for aftercare for a hip replacement surgery and this will need to be taken care of by your family.

You will also need to make sure that your parent is transported from the hospital to their home after their hospital stay. They will need assistance getting in and out of the vehicle and additional care should be placed on their comfort during this time.

Knowing what to expect for your parent after hip replacement surgery can make the recovery process easier for them and help them recover more quickly. Remember that they will need assistant during this time as well as encouragement to ensure they don’t forgo their ability to heal and get back to their daily routine.

Overall hip replacement surgery is a short-term surgery that can give your parent pain-free movement and allow them to have more vitality in their life. Help them to see the benefits of this surgery and how they can have a new lease on life after their recovery.


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