For cases of severe hip pain related to joint damage, hip replacement surgery can become a serious consideration if conservative treatments have not been able to deliver sufficient relief. Many patients are reluctant to undergo surgery, even if it is the best treatment option, due to many of the risks and difficulties associated with traditional hospital-based procedures. Fortunately, newer minimally invasive techniques have made it possible to perform hip replacement surgery that offers many exciting benefits to hip pain sufferers.
If you are dealing with chronic hip pain that is taking you away from the people and activities you love, taking a proactive role in your care and learning about the full spectrum of treatment options available can help. We’ve put together the following information about minimally invasive hip surgery to help patients educate themselves and give themselves a better chance of finding lasting relief.
The OJRCA team is happy to help and we welcome any questions about our treatment options and state-of-the-art facilities. Feel free to contact us at any time.
Hip Replacement Surgery Explained
The number one cause of joint damage and hip pain that requires a hip replacement surgery is degenerative arthritis, or osteoarthritis. This condition is the result of natural breakdown of cartilage that causes increased bone-on-bone friction between the ball at the top of the leg bone and the socket in the pelvis that forms the hip joint. The primary symptoms of arthritis are pain, stiffness and a cracking and popping sensation known as crepitus.
This is a progressive “wear and tear” condition that can worsen over time, which is why surgery can become a serious consideration despite fully committing to conservative treatments. If a physician or surgeon identifies sufficient joint damage, he or she may recommend hip replacement surgery.
The overall goal of hip replacement surgery is to replace damaged joint surfaces with a hip implant that allows for increased function. Traditionally, this type of procedure required large incisions to access the hip and perform the operation. However, the advent of specialized surgical techniques allow surgeons to perform hip replacements on a minimally invasive basis, with much less soft tissue trauma.
Taking this minimally invasive, muscle-sparing, tendon-sparing approach to total hip replacement surgery offers the following advantages to patients in addition to the prospect of lasting hip pain relief.
Traditional hip replacement surgery requires a very large incision, often ten to 12inches in length. Although minimally invasive hip replacement techniques vary, the incisions needed are much smaller. In some cases, the surgeon can make a single 3-4 inch incision that allows for a much less invasive access to the hip joint.
Advantages to smaller incisions are decreased scarring, quicker healing time, less time off work, fewer therapy visits and less exposure of internal tissue. This helps surgeons to accomplish some of the associated benefits, including decreased muscle disruption and less risk of infection.
Less Muscle and Soft Tissue Disruption
To access the hip joint in a traditional procedure, surgeons must cut through and/or release many of the muscles and tendons that surround the joint. These parts of the anatomy are critical for hip function and stability, often requiring extensive rehabilitation and healing. The repair of the tendons required limitations called precautions to be followed for at least six weeks after the surgery. During this time patients were very restricted from activities and were limited in the pace at which they could resume normal activities.
Minimally invasive hip replacement surgery is carefully designed to limit and spare these muscles, and tendons. This approach allows patients to immediately use their hip as if it were a natural one with a faster recovery time and less postsurgical discomfort. By eliminating these restrictions, patients no longer have the fear of dislocation and can resume their normal activities within merely days.
An Outpatient Procedure
Because of the minimally invasive approach to hip replacement surgery, in most cases it is possible to perform the procedure on an outpatient basis at an ambulatory surgery center. There are a number of benefits to this. From the standpoint of patients, the ability to be up and moving as early as possible can help create a positive mindset during recovery.
Similarly, the ability to avoid an overnight hospital stay and spend the night in the comfort of your home with family members can be of significant psychological benefit to patients after undergoing a procedure. Additionally, patients undergoing outpatient hip replacement surgery can also avoid some of the issues associated with hospitalization that we will discuss in more detail below.
Less Risk of Hospital-Based Infection
One of the biggest advantages of ambulatory surgery centers is their specialized nature. By focusing exclusively on treating certain types of conditions, such as orthopedic conditions, it can reduce the risk of infection.
Patients who are admitted to hospitals face exposure to all of the other patients who are staying at these larger facilities for a much wider range of conditions and illnesses. There is evidence that the infection rates at hospitals are higher than ambulatory surgery centers. Outpatient hip replacement surgery can help patients lower this risk.
Potential to Avoid Hospital-Associated Costs
Hospitals can be notorious sources of hidden costs and complicated billing practices. Many surgeons choose to perform surgeries in dedicated ambulatory surgery centers to help avoid these costs, which can also benefit patients.
Although the costs of minimally invasive hip replacements can vary according to a number of factors, including the insurance carrier, the hip implant and the specific type of procedure, the facility fee at a streamlined outpatient facility has to account for far less overhead compared to hospital-based surgery.
Opportunity for a Shorter Recovery Period
Hip replacement surgery recovery and rehabilitation typically takes months and requires extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation. The sooner that patients can get moving and begin to regain hip strength and range of motion, the greater the chance for a positive surgical outcome and return to a higher activity level. With minimally invasive procedures, patients are at an initial advantage due to the minimal disruption of soft tissue and smaller incision sites.
It is still critical to follow all postoperative instructions and fully commit to physical therapy and rehabilitation, but many patients who undergo minimally invasive hip replacement report regaining function more quickly and easily than they expected.
Minimally invasive procedures are no shortcut to a positive outcome however. In addition to physical therapy, it’s also important to eat a healthy diet and stay active with low-impact exercise as directed by your doctor or therapist. It’s also essential to make any directed lifestyle changes, including weight management and quitting smoking, to give yourself the best chance of long-term relief and quality of life improvement.
Call OJRCA to Learn About Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement Surgery
If hip pain from arthritis is keeping you from being active and enjoying the quality of life that you deserve, it may be time to consider outpatient joint replacement surgery. At Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America, we’re committed to helping you reclaim your health and former activity levels. Please call us or reach out online to schedule an appointment at our Tampa, FL, clinic.