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Hip replacement surgery technique speeds recovery

August 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Approximately 120,000 people will have a hip replaced this year. That's 10,000 people a month who are suffering with a pain so bad it hurts when they walk, or even move their joints.

Now a new technique for replacing the hip is getting people up and moving faster than ever before.

An anterior hip replacement can help alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis. It's been used on and off for decades, but advances in medical technology are making it more available.

Traditionally surgeons removed the arthritic hip by cutting into the side or back of the hip.

"The disadvantage in that is that tendons and muscles have to be cut in order to access the hip joint; that leads to more pain and also it leads to a risk of the hip dislocating after surgery," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Sanders.

Now surgeons approach the hip from the front side without cutting any muscles or tendons, reducing recovery time from two to four months, to two to eight weeks. It's a smaller incision with reduced pain or blood loss and less initial movement restrictions.

But experts say there are some cons. Due to the approach, there is a risk of nerve damage resulting in a numb, tingling or burning sensation along the thigh. And while many patients are candidates for the technique, it should be used selectively in very heavy individuals.

Unlike the strict precautions after conventional hip surgery, those who underwent the anterior approach are allowed to bend their hip freely and can bear their full weight almost immediately. This can also help speed up recovery time.


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