What I Wish I Knew Before Hip Replacement Surgery | Great Days Outdoors

What I Wish I Knew Before Hip Replacement Surgery

As outdoorsmen and women reach their retirement years, they may find they have more time to pursue the sports they love, but arthritic pain, which often comes with age, may prevent them from doing the hunting and fishing activities they’ve always enjoyed. Severe hip pain can make climbing that treestand no longer an option. Hiking to the top of a hill to glass for turkeys or reeling in a lunker at the end of your line can become impossible if the pain is bad enough. We spoke with Dr. Jacob Seales, a joint replacement and revision surgeon in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida to help answer the question, “What I wish I knew before hip replacement surgery?”

Dr. Seales, who specializes in hip and knee replacements assisted by Stryker Mako SmartRoboticsTM, says there’s no reason for anyone to have to give up the outdoor activities that they love due to hip pain. Hip replacement surgery aided by the Stryker robotic arm can have the hunter or angler back to doing what he or she loves in a matter of weeks. 

Alternatives To Hip Replacement Surgery

Of course, hip replacement surgery doesn’t necessarily have to be the first step for someone suffering from hip pain. 


“If someone is suffering from minor hip arthritis, we may first try some more conservative treatments, such as prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen or Aleve. Steroid injections that you can give every three months or so have also proven to be helpful. But these conservative treatments will not stop or reverse the progression of arthritis in the hip. They may help control the pain for a while, but the pain will eventually get worse and these treatments will no longer be effective.”


Seales says the rate of arthritic disease progress varies from person to person. Some people can continue with the conservative treatments for years before needing surgery, while others may only get relief for a short amount of time.  

Pros And Cons Of Robotic Hip Replacement Surgery

“Hip surgery is the only way to cure an arthritic joint, and most patients will enjoy a full recovery with no restrictions. They’ll be able to get back to doing whatever they were doing before their pain started.” Seales said.

Once a patient decides to proceed with surgery, Seales says he or she will most likely soon learn that the pros far outweigh the cons.



Seales uses Stryker Mako SmartRobotics, which offers a much more precise way of performing the surgery and allows him to finetune cuts requiring less soft-tissue release to make adjustments, which means less pain and a quicker recovery so the patient can get back to his or her outdoor activities sooner.


Before the surgery, the information and image from a CT scan of the joint is entered into the robotic arm. The system then creates a 3-D virtual model of the joint to help create a plan for the surgery. That plan is overlaid on the real-time surgery and used as a guide. The surgeon uses the robotic arm to prepare the bone according to visual boundaries that protect the essential structure and removes only the part that’s been affected. The robotic arm aids in placing the implant and ensures that it is balanced and fits well.


Dr. Jacob Seales

Dr. Jacob Seales uses Stryker Mako SmartRobotics™ to aid in hip-replacement surgery. (Image provided by Seales)


The robotic arm makes the actual cuts to within a half millimeter and a half of a degree of where it’s supposed to be. 

Seales says its essential to understand that the robot isn’t performing the surgery, the surgeon controls the robotic arm and combines his or her knowledge and judgment with the robot’s precision and control for a more precise procedure.


How Long Does Hip Replacement Surgery Take?

One thing you may wish you knew before hip replacement surgery is how long it will take. During the procedure, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, the surgeon replaces an arthritic or dysfunctional joint surface with an orthopedic prosthesis made of titanium or polyethylene. Hip and knee joint replacements are most common, but replacement surgery can be performed on other joints, including the ankle, wrist, shoulder and elbow.

Hip Replacement Surgery Complications and Risks

Of course, with any surgery there are risks, but Seales says the risks with hip replacement surgery are minimal. 

“There’s a less than 1-percent chance of infection and a less than 1-percent chance of the implant not bonding properly with the bone. There is a 2- to 3-percent risk of dislocation, which is one of the reasons I do the anterior approach, which lowers the risk. Also, the robotic arm helps put the implant in the proper location as well,” Seales said. 

Seales explains that, as opposed to the older posterior approach, the anterior approach is a newer, more minimally invasive, muscle-sparing way to do a total hip replacement. The surgeon goes through the front side of the hip between a natural window in the hip muscles, instead of the posterior approach that was once used that required cutting the muscle. And since it spares the muscles, patients are able to recover more quickly.


How To Prepare For Hip Replacement Surgery

According to Arthritis-Health.com, there are several steps you can take to prepare for surgery. 

  • Lose excess weight, which can help decrease the chance of post-surgical complication. 
  • Quit smoking, as nicotine use can affect your blood flow and slow down recovery. 
  • Find a driver who can drive you to essential appointments and other locations until you are no longer on narcotic pain medications and have regained strength and mobility in your hip.
  • Your doctor may ask you to avoid blood thinners, such as aspirin and warfarin, a few weeks before surgery.
  • You may need to start medications your physician has prescribed for you to help you recover more quickly after surgery. 
  • You may want to move your sleeping arrangements to the first floor of your home to avoid navigating stairs. 
  • Arrange to have a walker, crutches or cane to aid in mobility after the surgery.

Diet Before Hip Replacement Surgery

Seales emphasizes that it’s a good idea to eat healthy before the surgery and during recovery to speed the process.

According to The American College of Surgeons, you should eat foods that will help your body heal, such as protein-rich foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Eat at least three times of day and do not skip meals. Consider healthy choices such as lean meat, fish, poultry, beans, eggs, cheese, nuts, tofu, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt and protein drinks. Stay hydrated by drinking at least six to eight cups of fluid each day. 

If you are at an unhealthy weight, your doctor may encourage you to get on a special diet to either gain or lose weight to lessen complications after surgery.


Hip Replacement Surgery Recovery Time

Seales says most patients will return home the same day as surgery. 

“We get them up and walking with a walker two to three hours after the surgery. They’ll work with therapy and will go home later that same day. Most will use a walker for one to two weeks. Some will then transition to a cane for one week. By three weeks, most patients will be walking unassisted,” Seales said. 

He says patients will generally continue with physical therapy for four to six more weeks while they gradually build up strength. He tells them not to lift anything heavy and avoid extreme range of motion that could cause the hip to be hyper flexed or hyper extended during the recovery period. He also says it’s a good idea to eat healthy before the surgery and during recovery to speed the process. And being at a healthy weight is beneficial as well.


What I Wish I Knew Before Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip pain can prevent outdoors enthusiasts from participating in the activities they love. (Image by Stephanie Mallory)


“There are zero restrictions after that recovery period. In fact, most patients will be putting all of this behind them by six weeks and going back to the activities that they love,” Seales said. 

What Is Normal Pain After Hip Replacement Surgery?

Another thing you may wish you knew before hip replacement surgery is what the normal pain will be. He said the post-surgery pain is usually manageable. 

“The pain is well-tolerated. I do an injection into the tissue during surgery to help control the early post-op pain. Some people had such severe hip arthritis pain that they are in less pain when they wake up from surgery than they were before the procedure. Most patients only take pain medications for three to five days after the surgery.”

He says the scarring is minimal, usually measuring approximately 4 or 5 inches long.

What Not To Do After Hip Replacement Surgery

After surgery, Seales tells patients not to lift anything heavy and avoid extreme range of motion that could cause the hip to be hyper flexed or hyper extended during the recovery period. This could cause more injury or result in a longer recovery time 

Permanent Restrictions After Hip Replacement Surgery

“There are zero restrictions after that recovery period. In fact, most patients will be putting all of this behind them by six weeks and going back to the activities that they love,” Seales said.


What Is The Hip Replacement Surgery Scar Like?

Seales says the scarring is minimal, usually measuring approximately 4 or 5 inches long and will fade over time with proper care. The scar is under clothing and well worth the sacrifice for a better quality of life.


Hip Replacement Surgery Cost

Knowing the cost is another thing you may you knew before hip replacement surgery. Your out-of-pocket-cost for hip replacement surgery will depend on where you live, your insurance, your length of hospital stay, the device type, after-care needs and more. 

According to Cost Helper Health, the cost for patients without health insurance can range between $31,839 and $44,816, with an average cost of $39,299. Some medical facilities do offer uninsured discounts. Talk to your orthopedic surgeon during our initial consultation about costs if you do not have insurance.

How Much Is Hip Replacement Surgery With Insurance?

Hip replacement surgery is usually covered by most healthcare plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, but patients with health insurance typically pay out-of-pocket expenses up to several thousand dollars. The out-of-pocket costs will depend on the terms of your insurance policy. Deductibles and co-pays all have to be taken into account.


What I Wish I Knew Before Hip Replacement Surgery – First Hand Account

Ward Taylor said Seales recently performed joint replacement surgery on both he and his wife using Stryker Mako SmartRobotics™, and they were beyond pleased with the results and recovery time.

Taylor said his wife had undergone joint replacement surgery years ago before surgery with the Stryker Mako Robotic Arm was an option, and seeing her suffer throughout the recovery process caused him to drag out his own procedure. But after hearing about the Stryker Mako SmartRobotics™, she decided to give it another try and had a wonderful experience. After seeing her breeze through recovery, Taylor decided to move forward with his own surgery. 

Taylor, who has a place down in Destin, Florida, has always enjoyed working on and using his boat, but the pain got so bad that simply maintaining his boat became almost impossible. 

“I used to be able to climb around in my boat and service the engine with no problem. Last year, it took me three days to service two boats. Before the pain, it’d only take me a day.”  

He said when he got to where he couldn’t enjoy his boat, service it, climb the ladder or crawl around in the boat, he knew it was time to do something about it. 


What I Wish I Knew Before Hip Replacement Surgery

Most patients who undergo a hip replacement surgery using the Mako robotic arm can get back to the activities they love within a matter of weeks. (Image by Stephanie Mallory)


Taylor said he’s thrilled with the outcome of his surgery.

“I only had 10 days to two weeks down time, during which time I didn’t try to do a whole lot. I never had issues with walking. We have 14 steps in the house. I walked up and down the steps the night I got home from the hospital,” Taylor said.

He said the nerve block he received during the surgery meant he had no pain right after the procedure. 

“That nerve block lasts 6 to 8 hours and allows you to get home before any pain strikes, but neither of us had much pain. We were able to control it with Tylenol and a little bit of opioids. The pain level from this surgery is surprisingly low. It’s just not near as bad as I thought it would be. How well you can get around afterward is surprising. I used a walker for four or five days then got off of it.”

Ward says these days he pretty much does whatever he wants to do, including working on his boat, bicycling and yard work. He also said getting in and out of the truck no longer bothers him. 

“If you’re putting surgery off because you’re not sure, I encourage you to go talk to Dr. Seales and the people at Orthopedic Associates,” Ward said. 

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