Total hip replacement surgery, also known as total hip arthroplasty, is a procedure aimed at treating damaged or fractured hips. It involves removing damaged bones and cartilage and replacing them with prosthetics.
Certain conditions such as osteoarthritis can weaken and damage the hips, causing pain and making it difficult to walk or get in and out of a chair. As the hip is one of the largest joints in the body, it balances and supports the body when doing everyday activities, while enabling you to move your legs. Therefore, having damaged hips can severely impact your quality of life.
Total hip replacement surgery can also be used to treat hips that are fractured due to trauma or injury. It is typically recommended for those with chronic hip pain, stiffness, and discomfort that does not improve with medication.
How does total hip replacement surgery work?
During a total hip replacement surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon makes an incision in the skin above the hip and removes the damaged femoral head and cartilage. A metal stem is then inserted in the hollow centre of the femur (thigh bone). A metal or ceramic ball will then be placed in the upper part of the stem, replacing the damaged femoral head that was previously removed.
After removing the damaged or diseased cartilage, the orthopaedic surgeon inserts a metal socket or screws. A spacer made out of plastic, ceramic, or metal is then placed between the new ball and socket, allowing them to glide smoothly and enabling range of motion in the joint.
This procedure is done under general anaesthesia and may last for up to two hours. Depending on the patient, it may require an overnight stay at the hospital.
Benefits of total hip replacement surgery
Eliminates pain, discomfort, and stiffness in the hip
Enables flexibility and range of motion
Improves strength and mobility
Enhances quality of life
Long-lasting and effective
What conditions does total hip replacement surgery treat?
Total hip replacement surgery can treat the following conditions:
Hip pain and stiffness
What results can I expect?
After total hip replacement surgery, you may feel some pain and there may be some swelling at the joint, which is normal. You may be advised to take painkillers and/or ice the hip to reduce discomfort.
Post-surgery you must:
Avoid using the stairs
Use a raised toilet seat to reduce bending
Install safety handrails to prevent falls
Remove trip hazards around the house
Avoid turning or twisting the affected leg inwards
Avoid high impact sports and heavy lifting
You will also need to attend physiotherapy sessions to learn strengthening and mobility exercises as you recover from the surgery. During these sessions, you will learn gentle but therapeutic exercises that will help you to slowly increase the amount of weight and pressure you put on your legs until you can walk without any pain or assistance. Most patients reach full recovery after 6-8 weeks.
Results will vary from person to person, depending on the treatment area, severity of the issue, and your overall health. Your orthopaedist can give you a better idea of what to expect based on your individual needs and circumstances.
How many treatment sessions are needed?
Only one procedure at a time is needed for total hip replacement surgery.
However, you can expect to attend physiotherapy sessions and follow-ups with your orthopaedist as you recover. The exact duration of these sessions depends on the individual and how fast the body can heal.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.