You’ve likely heard of hip replacement surgery before and how it helps restore mobility and relieves pain stemming from a weak hip joint. While the procedure is usually a great idea and quite effective, there are a few complications that can result from having one.
The benefits tend to outweigh any negative ramifications, but not all hip replacements are the same and it isn’t always a perfect transition. Because of this, you should fully understand what risks you face before making a life-changing decision.
Encountering a problem like blood clots or facing the risks of metal toxicity can turn an ordinarily helpful surgery into a nightmare. Remember that there’s no guarantee of a smooth procedure and you should discuss all possible consequences with your surgeon before scheduling a date.
We’ll go over a few common complications of hip surgery below so that you can make a better-informed decision.
Fractured or Dislocated Hip Joint
Two closely related complications of hip replacement surgery include a dislocated or fractured hip joint.
With a new hip joint, it’s easy to accidentally dislocate it. Your hip joint works like a ball-and-socket. When your hip joint dislocates this means that the ball portion of your joint is being dislodged from your hip socket.
Dislocation is most common immediately following surgery because the area is weakened and not fully healed. You might bend over in the wrong way and pop it out of its socket.
There’s also a possibility of having a hip fracture. This also happens because the surrounding bones of a hip replacement are weakened.
With a replaced hip, you may feel stronger than your bones are capable of. When you need a hip replacement, it usually means that the whole area is already damaged. A hip replacement can restore mobility, but it won’t always restore strength to the whole area.
A hip fracture is much more serious than a dislocation, but it’s also less common. If you carefully follow your surgeon’s instructions for post-op, then your risk of these complications will decrease.
Another serious side effect is a blood clot.
Anytime you have surgery, you’re likely to spend a lot of time resting and immobilized. When you have a hip replacement, you also aren’t able to move much while the joint heals.
With a lack of movement, the risk of developing a blood clot skyrockets. This is when some of your blood thickens and forms a mass. Blood is typically liquid, which allows it to easily flow through your body.
When blood turns into a mass, it restricts blood flow and can create serious health issues. Having a blood clot in your leg is bad enough by itself, but becomes a life-threatening condition if it moves to your lungs. If this happens, it can restrict your breathing and cause a pulmonary embolism.
Blood clots are very important to prevent and this can be difficult with a hip replacement. Because of this, you must exercise moderately as your surgeon suggests following surgery and remember to take blood thinners if they are prescribed to you.
Infection and Allergic Reaction
Two more problems resulting from a hip replacement are infection and an allergic reaction.
Infections are always a possibility following any procedure. There’s a chance that the incision site can get infected if you don’t keep it sterile.
Additionally, there’s also a risk with any surgery that includes inserting foreign objects. A hip replacement will install a ceramic or metal joint in place of your damaged joint.
While this operation restores your mobility, it doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t a natural part of your body. Because of this, it’s hard for your body to attack any harmful bacteria that latches onto your replaced hip joint.
Furthermore, there’s a possibility that your body will reject the foreign hip joint because it’s made of metal. If your body has a sensitivity to metal, having a metal joint directly inside your body can lead to an allergic reaction.
While both scenarios are extremely unlikely, there’s still a slim chance that both can occur. You must carefully follow any cleaning instructions and avoid getting sick from any source in the future to keep your new joint healthy.
As a final consideration, pain can result from a hip replacement.
You’ll inevitably experience pain directly following a hip replacement procedure, but this should fade with time. If it persists, this may be a symptom of an infection or other complications resulting from the surgery.
There’s also a slim chance that there won’t be a direct cause for your pain. Hip replacements are generally performed to restore mobility and reduce pain, but sometimes the intended outcome is not achieved.
If this happens, then you may have to suffer from chronic hip pain despite getting surgery to fix it. This can happen from nerves being damaged during your procedure that will lead to pain that never fades.
Pain is unavoidable from hip replacement, but the extent of it will vary depending on how successful your operation is and whether any other issues pop up. You can limit your pain by also following post-op instructions and refraining from overdoing yourself.
Hip replacement surgery can be an incredibly beneficial procedure that can directly improve your quality of life. Unfortunately, the possibility of complications is very real and can make life following your procedure worse.
A few side effects you should be aware of include fractured or dislocated hip joints, blood clots, infection and allergic reactions, and chronic pain. While most of these issues are fairly uncommon, no procedure is ever a sure deal and you’d hate to be one of the unlucky patients that suffer.
Because of this, you’ll need to have a thorough discussion with your surgeon and make sure that you understand what can happen and how to avoid it. Remember to follow all of your post-op instructions to a T and never deviate from them to give yourself the best chance of a better life going forward.