What is surgical realignment?

Accidents, falls and other trauma can lead to hip dislocations and fractures. When this happens, you may damage cartilage, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues in the hip joint. You may also have nerve injuries. They're very painful and need immediate medical attention.

Surgical realignment is a procedure for doctors to get the hip joint back into its proper position. In this surgery, doctors remove fragments and tissues. They put the thigh bone back into place in the socket.

The most common type of hip dislocation is a posterior dislocation, meaning the thigh bone gets pushed out of the socket backwards. This accounts for up to 90% of hip dislocation patients, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The less common type is the anterior dislocation. With it, the thigh bone gets pushed out of the socket in a forward direction.

What to expect from surgical realignment

Before the surgical realignment for your hip, your doctor takes pictures of the inside of your hip with X-rays and MRIs. They provide a better idea of the condition of your hip. Anesthesia makes you completely unconscious for the procedure. You aren't awake, and you don't feel any pain.

Your doctor makes an incision in your skin and separates the muscles to get to your hip bones. Next, they cut through the bones to free the hip from its original location. They're then able to realign the bones in your hip to a better position. The surgeon secures them in place with metal plates and screws.

You need to stay in the hospital for two to three days after the surgery. The medical team will have you up and moving shortly after the surgery to promote healing. You need around-the-clock care for the first week at home. If you don't have help at home, you may need to enter a rehab facility for a short time.

For the first six weeks after surgery, you may need to use crutches to walk. You also go to physical therapy. You might be able to return to regular activities in six months, but it can take longer for some patients.

Common conditions requiring surgical realignment

Fractures and hip dislocations — and related damage — are the conditions that require surgical realignment. Unlike the shoulder, hips require a tremendous amount of force to dislocate. Accidents that generate enough force include:

  • Industrial accidents
  • Automobile accidents
  • Falls from significant heights

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