Hip Replacement Pain- How Do You Assess Pain With Dementia?

Hip replacement surgery can be especially challenging for those with dementia, who may not be able to communicate their pain. As a caregiver, it's important to know the signs and symptoms of discomfort, and to use techniques like RIME (rest, ice, medicate, elevate) to manage pain.

Hip Replacement Pain- How Do You Assess Pain With Dementia?

Hip Replacement Pain can be difficult to assess in someone with dementia.

What to Do when Your Hip Replacement Causes You Pain

Surgery is a normal part of most people’s lives. In fact, half a million hip-replacement surgeries in particular are performed every year. A majority of these surgeries are performed on seniors. Many of those seniors have some form of dementia ... that may or not be diagnosed until a crisis, such as a fall and broken hip occurs.

As with any surgery, a hip replacement requires you to take certain actions to decrease pain... and get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.

Those with dementia may not be able to tell you that they are experiencing pain. So, as a care partner, you will need to be aware of some signs and symptoms. Negative behaviors, such as an increase in irritability, anxiety or restlessness.

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Hip Replacement Pain and Dementia 

Here are a few tips to get you started:


So it’s a slight variation of the RICE acronym – RIME replaces the “C” for “Compression” with an “M” for “Medicate.” Here’s the way it works:

  1. Rest. This part’s pretty straightforward. Let your body relax and heal, especially during the first week after your surgery. Depending on how active you usually are... this may be difficult. Rest will ultimately speed up the healing process and be worth it
  2. Ice. Applying ice or an ice pack directly to the affected area for even a small amount of time will reduce swelling. And as an added bonus, feels extra wonderful on hot summer days. Consider using ice packs, so you don’t have to worry about regular ice melting.
  3. Medicate. Your doctor gives you pain medication for a reason. don’t be afraid to use it (at the recommended dosage, of course)! For the primary caregiver... make sure you give medications before an activity that may cause discomfort. Or when you notice your family member wincing in pain or showing signs of discomfort.
  4. Elevate. Get those legs up – at least a few times a day. Use pillows and blankets while sitting or lying down, and your pain should decrease.

Ensure Your Implant Hasn’t Become Dislocated

While some aches and pains are a normal part or any post-surgery experience... other pains may spawn from issues like hip dislocation. This is uncommon. It happens in only about 5 percent of the cases, but it is possible. It alsy requires revision surgery, which can obviously lengthen healing time even more.

To minimize the likelihood of your implant becoming dislocated, DO NOT:

  • Sleep on your side
  • Cross your legs
  • Bend your legs more than 90 degrees
  • Sit on low chairs, couches, etc.

If you notice unusual pain and swelling... speak to your doctor about whether dislocation is a possibility. Some of these steps may be difficult for some of your family members. Ask about the triangle pillow to use for awhile when you return home.

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Speak to a Personal-Injury Lawyer

If you’re experiencing unusually severe or long-lasting pain... it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor . Perhaps even a personal-injury lawyer... about whether the device you received has had any non-traditional complications.

In the case of hip-replacement devices, many have been known to cause a number of problems. For example, Biomet has released a few problematic hip-implant models. Among them are:

  • M2a Magnum
  • Stanmore
  • Exceed ABT

The issues being reported have to do with these products’ metal-on-metal (MoM) design. As opposed to models that use:

Ceramic on ceramic

Ceramic on plastic

Or metal in conjunction with ceramic and/or plastic.

The metal pieces rub against each other... causing metallosis. This is a build-up of metal debris in the body/bloodstream. Aside from pain and implant failure... this can lead to side effects such as dizziness, bone loss and metal poisoning.

Even though many patients experiencing complications filed lawsuits against Biomet, these devices,... as well as many similar devices from other manufacturers, were not recalled.

Do you need help caring for a loved one?

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You can get started by clicking on the link below. We know that taking care of a loved one is hard work, but with our help you can get the support that you need.

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Jen Juneau is a content writer for Drugwatch.com. She is versed in technical writing, creative writing and everything in between. Join the Drugwatch community on our Facebook page to find out more.