Preventative Care For Hip Replacement Candidates

In many cases, hip replacement surgery has been shown to decrease pain in arthritic patients, increase mobility, and improve their overall quality of life.  In recent years, the prosthetic joints used to replace a patient's own hip joint have proven to last even longer than previously thought: up to 20 years in some cases. 

Alternative Treatment

It is important to remember, however, that the possible complications associated with this surgery warrant most doctors to encourage their patients to first try alternatives to surgery.  These alternatives not only show an increase in health and function, but also put patients in a better position for recovery if surgery is found to be the ultimate best option.

What Can I Do?

The first factor to consider in increasing your joint health is, naturally, your overall health.  Patients who are overweight are shown to have a significant amount of stress placed on the hip joint specifically, as this joint bears two to three times the weight of a person's body.  A healthy lifestyle will help you to maintain a healthy weight, decreasing the stress on your joints.

Stretching to Maintain Range of Motion

Proper stretching exercises will help you to prevent stiffness in the joint, and keep it moving through its full range of motion.  It is best to have a doctor or physical therapist guide you through what are the best stretches to do for your hip, since stretching the wrong way could increase your pain and stiffness, rather than decreasing it.

Regular Exercise

Exercising on a regular basis is important to joint health because it strengthens the muscles that make the joint function, as well as other surrounding joints.  For example, the muscles in your hip will bear more of the load when you walk or move, taking stress off the joint itself.  Additionally, healthy knee and back joints are better able to share the load of your hip joint, also reducing its stress.  An exercise regimen focused on this specific need will increase your success.  Again, check with your doctor to work out a routine that works best for you.

Movement Aids—Canes, Chairs, Shoes

While many patients avoid the use of canes or walkers, as the patient may feel elderly using them, movement aids can be a great way to avoid hip pain if you know you will be doing a lot of walking.  Even if you choose to only use a cane when you go to the mall, or similar extended walking situations, the benefit could mean decreased pain overall.  Also, be sure to select shoes that have good padding in the heel, and are comfortable for walking.

Healthy Patients Mean More Speedy Recovery

If you and your doctor do end up deciding that hip replacement surgery is the best option for you, these preventative care techniques will put you in the best position for a healthy surgery and recovery.  In the long run, doing everything you can to care for your body means that your body will be able to better care for you when it is time for healing.