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For those with a faulty hip joint, hip replacement surgery can significantly increase mobility, in turn improving quality of life. A small percentage of individuals who undergo this surgery later experience hip replacement dislocation, however. Anyone considering this procedure should learn to recognize the symptoms of a dislocated hip replacement, which can include pain, difficulty walking, and an apparent deformity of the leg. Once a dislocation has been recognized, it should be promptly treated so that full mobility can be restored. Further, precautionary measures should be taken to reduce the chances of dislocation.
Hip replacement surgery is performed on those whose hip joint has ceased to function properly, causing pain and limited mobility. A number of factors can cause impaired hip function, including arthritis, injury, a cyst or tumor, or a circulatory condition. The surgery involves the removal of the faulty ball-and-socket joint followed by its replacement with a prosthetic joint, usually made from ceramic, porcelain, plastic, or a combination of these. After an initial recovery period, hip replacement surgery normally significantly increases mobility and reduces hip pain.
A small number of individuals who undergo this surgery later experience hip replacement dislocation, however. Dislocation generally refers to the movement of the ball component of the hip prosthesis out of the socket component. It most commonly affects those who had their hip replaced less than six months earlier, as the muscles and ligaments which normally support the hip are initially weakened by the procedure.
Symptoms of hip replacement dislocation may include a popping or snapping sound at the moment of dislocation. Also common is pain in the hip, buttock, and upper leg. It may be difficult or impossible to put pressure on the affected leg. Further, the affected leg may appear to be twisted outward, or may seem to be shorter or longer than the other leg.
Individuals experiencing any of these symptoms should consult their physician, who may perform an X-ray to confirm that the hip has indeed become dislocated. Hip replacement dislocation can often be treated fairly easily, with a physician simply guiding the dislocated ball back into its socket. If this treatment is unsuccessful, however, further surgery may be needed.
Those who have had a hip replacement can take precautionary measures to reduce the chances of dislocation. First of all, they should try to avoid bending their hip more than 90 degrees, especially in the months immediately after their surgery. In addition, sitting with the legs crossed and sleeping on the side should be avoided.