couple hiking

by Michael Fracchia, MD

Get back to life without hip painActivity, aging and arthritis are some of the reasons that more and more people are receiving total hip replacements each year. The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons projects 500,000 hip replacement procedures in the U.S. annually by the year 2030, nearly double the number performed today.

If you are contemplating hip surgery, consider the following:

1. Is it the right time? The first step to a hip replacement is determining that you need it. Is your pain keeping you up at night and preventing you from going about your daily life? Have you tried other options like therapy or medication but saw no lasting relief? Are you in general good health? If you answered yes to these questions, it may be time.

2. Get more than one physician opinion. First speak with your primary care provider and then seek out at least two opinions from qualified orthopedic surgeons. This will give you more information and help you to make the best decision for your health.

3. Anterior or Posterior? Hip replacement surgery can be performed from the front of the hip (anterior) or the rear (posterior) depending on the patient and the patient’s condition. There are advantages to both procedures. For example, anterior surgery may require a smaller incision than posterior and have less chance of dislocation, but has some additional risks. Conversely, posterior may be the better option for patients with osteoporosis because it generally has a lower risk of fracture. Talk with your surgeon about how your procedure will be performed.

4. Making lifestyle changes before surgery. Smoking increases the risk of blood clots and decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to the incision, which slows healing, so quit or at least cut back as much as possible. If you are carrying extra weight, recognize that it puts an additional strain on your body and can make recovery that much more difficult. Consult with your physician for smoking cessation and nutritional information.

5. Are you really ready? You have the biggest impact on the success of your recovery. Make sure you are fully committed to exercising, eating right and being compliant with your doctor’s instructions. Before you leave for the hospital, ensure that your house is ready for your return and that you won’t have to climb stairs unnecessarily or worry about tripping hazards like small rugs. The better prepared you are for surgery and recovery, the better the outcome will be.

If you’d like to find out more about total joint replacement surgery, attend one of Mather Hospital’s free informational breakfast seminars.


Michael Fracchia, MD, is Director of the Department of Orthopedics at Mather Hospital.