How Can Diabetes Affect Hip Replacement Surgery?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate glucose, causing too much blood sugar in the body. It happens when the body either fails to produce any insulin (Type 1) or makes less insulin that the cells resist (Type 2). 

According to the CDC, over 34.2 million Americans aged 18 years old and above suffer from diabetes. In fact, it has been established as the ninth leading cause of death for many Americans, with a body count of almost 1.5 million. 

Since diabetes affects several body systems, the disease has been known to be a precursor of many illnesses, such as bone disorders, joint damage, and arthritic conditions. Additionally, diabetes can also negatively impact the success rate of surgical procedures used to treat the mentioned disorders. 

Below is a brief discussion on the link between diabetes and hip problems and how this disease can affect hip replacement surgery.

How does diabetes cause hip and joint problems?

Studies suggest that a person with diabetes has an increased risk of developing hip and joint problems disorders over time. Here are several reasons behind this link:

Diabetes causes musculoskeletal breakdown. 

Besides controlling blood sugar, another main function of insulin is to stimulate muscle cell growth and proliferation. Without enough insulin, your body will gradually decline in skeletal muscle mass and degrade the remaining muscle cells. 

As a result, the hip joint一which is primarily held together by muscle structures一can suffer from wear and tear, thus causing hip problems, such as osteoarthritis and tendinitis. These two conditions will then cause joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, and mobility problems.

Diabetes causes neuropathy

Over time, uncontrolled blood glucose levels can lead to nerve damage, specifically on the extremities. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy.

Studies suggest that this complication may occur due to high blood glucose levels that ultimately weaken the blood vessels in the body. As the capillaries get damaged, they won’t be able to supply the right amount of oxygen and nutrients to the nerves, thus its impairment. 

Some of the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include:

  • Numbness and little to no sensation on the affected body part
  • Weakness, redness, and swelling
  • Pain in the affected joints
  • Physical deformity

As a result of nerve damage and low blood supply, the affected body part (e.g., ankles, hip) can suffer from joint damage and degeneration over time.

Diabetes increases the risk of obesity

Diabetes is a major risk factor for obesity since the excess insulin in the bloodstream gets converted to fat in adipose tissues. So if you have diabetes, there’s a massive chance that you’ll also develop obesity. 

Unfortunately, being obese is also a risk factor for a plethora of debilitating illnesses, such as hip osteoarthritis. The extra pounds, even just as little as 10lb, puts unnecessary pressure on the joints, causing small tears which can develop into arthritis.  

Type 1 diabetes causes uncontrolled inflammation.

Type 1 diabetes is a form of autoimmune disease wherein the body attacks its own pancreas, destroying the insulin-making cells inside. Unfortunately, autoimmune disorders cause uncontrolled inflammation in the body, affecting other parts over time. 

Additionally, studies suggest that if you have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to develop another one since the immune system is already acting abnormally. This is why most people with Type 1 diabetes also get diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Can diabetes cause hip replacement surgery complications?

Diabetes is a major risk factor for several hip and joint diseases. In fact, statistics revealed that over 47% of patients with diabetes also have some form of arthritis, such as in the hip. As a result, many diabetic patients are recommended to undergo hip replacement surgery to relieve hip pain and its other symptoms. 

All surgeries come with their fair share of possible complications. But with diabetes, you are more likely to develop surgical complications which can interfere with your healing and recovery. Some examples include:

  • Risk of infection studies suggest that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop surgical site infection due to uncontrolled blood glucose. High blood sugar weakens the immune system, damages the nerves, and impairs blood supply. All of these contribute to the impaired healing capacity of the body, thus the risk for infection. 
  • Risk of bleeding and circulation problems – having diabetes for a long time damages the blood vessels and impairs blood supply. As a result, there would be less blood supply in the operated area, thus limited oxygen and nutrients. This, then, results in slower healing and recovery rate.
  • Risk of myocardial infarction and stroke – hip replacement surgery may involve the use of general anesthesia, which means you’ll be sedated during the operation. However, this may increase your risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke during the procedure due to poor blood circulation caused by diabetes.

Additionally, diabetes increases your likelihood of developing heart diseases, which may then cause complications with your heart during the surgery.

  • Risk of revision – hip replacement surgery is an effective treatment option for hip pain, with a success rate of almost 90%. Unfortunately, the risk of surgical revision increases when you have an underlying condition, such as diabetes. 

Furthermore, research stated that diabetes often results in poor orthopedic surgical outcomes and revisions. 

How to prepare for your surgery if you have diabetes?

Despite a number of risks, it’s still important for diabetic patients to undergo hip replacement surgery to address their joint problems. 

You just have to make some lifestyle changes and follow strict health instructions to ensure that you’re body is in top shape. Here are some of the things you should do before, during, and after your procedure:

  • Months before the surgery, it’s essential to lead a healthy and balanced diet for your upcoming surgery. Ideally, you should maintain an HbA1c level of 7% and below. This signifies that your blood sugar levels have been under control for the past three months.
  • You can manage your diabetes by eating foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. You should consume only the right amount of food each meal and take medications at the right time. 
  • Participate in low-impact exercises to manage your blood glucose.
  • Disclose everything to your doctor, including your current maintenance medications and other underlying symptoms. Your doctor will tell you what medications to stop before your surgery. They can also recommend a nutritionist to help manage your diet in the weeks leading to the surgery.
  • After the surgery, your doctor may administer a shot of insulin to counter the rising blood sugar levels due to the stress of the operation. 

It may take a long time to heal and recover from the surgery compared to other patients. You should also expect to stay longer in the hospital since your doctor may want to monitor you for any signs of infection and bleeding. 

It is highly possible to evade surgical complications even if you have diabetes. You just have to manage and control your blood glucose after the operation to help your body recover faster. 

hip replacement surgery

Where to find the best orthopedic doctors in Hernando County?

It’s vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure the success of your hip replacement surgery. However, it’s also important to get the help of the best orthopedic care team to make sure that you receive the best medical care and treatment.

At Tarabishy Orthopedics, we provide the highest quality patient care and treatment services to address various orthopedic injuries. Our leading orthopedic doctor in Brooksville, Dr. Imad Tarabishy, specializes in performing diverse, innovative techniques, such as:

Contact us now to get in touch with our experts and start your consultation. 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.