by Julian Hills, from Drugwatch.com

senior man in hospital bed

The goal of hip replacement surgery is to allow the patient to return to normal daily activities.

Most people who have hip replacement surgery are between 60 and 80 years old, so it is important that they have a solid support system in place in the weeks following the operation. The healing period directly after the procedure can be intense.

The combination of healing time, surgical risks, age and the overall health of the patient are factors home care givers should consider when looking after someone who has had a procedure like hip replacement surgery. In addition to medical concerns, caregivers should be aware of quality-of-life issues for the patients when they return home after the procedure.

Beware of Post-Surgical Complications

All surgeries have risks. Due to advances in hip surgery, there are fewer associated risks, but patients and caregivers should still be careful to look out for short-term and long-term complications.

Some of the surgical risks from hip replacements are:

  • Hip dislocation
  • Fractures
  • Infections in the joint
  • Blood clots
  • Numbness and weakness
  • Bone loss

Possible complications can also depend on the type of hip used. Some of the most severe problems have been the result of devices that later had to be taken off the market.

Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits as a result of its metal-on-metal ASR device that was recalled in 2010. Other companies like Stryker and Biomet face similar allegations with some of their hip devices.

Even though many problematic devices are off the market, there are still a considerable number of people who have those devices still in them. Thousands of patients around the world have had follow-up procedures (called revision surgeries) where the problematic devices were removed and replaced.

In the long term, patients and caregivers should beware of pain, swelling or a change in mobility after the surgery. These can indicate complications.

Making the Recovery Process Easier on the Patient

To prepare for the recovery process, it’s important to know that there will be things a patient can and can’t do.

Coming home is the goal, but many precautions need to be made before the patient returns.

In the early weeks following hip replacement surgery, simple tasks like driving to appointments and getting up and down stairs will be impossible. Caregivers will need to help with day-to-day activities, or enlist someone else to help.

Keeping the home environment comfortable and safe are priorities, since a fall could cause a major setback for a recovering patient. Caregivers should consider preparing meals in advance that are easy to heat up and keep non-perishable foods on hand.

Also, as the patient gets stronger, proper exercise and rehabilitation will be very important to a recovery.

Before the surgery, the doctor should provide special instructions for the caregiver before things get hectic.

 

Julian Hills is a content writer and blogger for Drugwatch.com. His journalism career has taken him from newspapers to local television news stations and even a 24-hour cable network in the Southeast. Julian is a graduate of Florida State University.