You may not notice how critical proper hip function is to your daily life until you no longer have it. When damage occurs to the hip, due to arthritis, injury or another medical condition, even basic activities like standing up or walking can be both painful and challenging. Hip pain can also permeate into your sleep hours, preventing you from getting a good night’s rest.

Some individuals suffering from hip damage will find sufficient relief by taking medications, using walking aids like canes or changing how they perform daily tasks. If these efforts do not provide the desired result, total hip replacement surgery (also known as hip arthroplasty) may be the next logical treatment step. This procedure replaces the diseased hip joint with a prosthesis, providing relief from pain and allowing you to resume the everyday activities you once enjoyed.

Overview of the Hip

The hip is a sizable ball-and-socket joint that allows for some of the larger motions of the lower body like squatting, climbing and walking. The socket portion of the hip is known as the acetabulum, which is a component of the pelvis or hipbone. The ball portion consists of the femoral head that is located at the top of the femur (thighbone). Cartilage covers both the components to cushion them during motion, and a thin tissue membrane surrounds the joint to lubricate it and prevent friction. When any of these parts stop working correctly, it can lead to persistent pain, limited range of motion and the inability to participate in many activities.

Causes of Chronic Hip Pain

Different conditions can lead to chronic hip pain and the potential need for total hip arthroplasty:

Osteoarthritis

The most common reason for hip pain, osteoarthritis occurs when the joint wears out or becomes damaged over time. Cartilage protecting the joint diminishes, and the bones of the joint begin to wear away as well. While this condition usually isn’t seen until the middle years of life, it is occasionally a problem for younger adults who have a genetic predisposition to the condition or experienced irregular hip development in childhood.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This autoimmune disorder can lead to chronic inflammation of the hip and a breakdown of the cartilage. These issues can lead to significant pain and reduced mobility, necessitating treatment to stop the damage. While hip replacements do not “cure” rheumatoid arthritis, it can improve a patient’s quality of life over the long-term by reducing symptoms and increasing function of the replaced hip.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

This type of arthritis is a long-term result of a previous injury like a fracture. The damage that occurs can lead to the deterioration of cartilage, which can cause pain and other symptoms over time.

Avascular Necrosis

This condition is also caused by an injury to the hip but is attributed to the diminished blood supply to the head of the femur as a result of the damage. Lack of blood can lead to deterioration of the bone over time, which may result in chronic pain and stiffness in the joint.

Childhood Hip Conditions

Children are sometimes born with structural defects in the hip. Even if they are successfully treated at an early age, it can affect how the hip develops. In some cases, it can increase the incidence of arthritis later in life as well.

Is Total Hip Replacement Right for You?

Hip replacement surgery has been performed for nearly six decades, and the techniques and prosthetics have continued to improve over that time. Today, more than 300,000 hip replacements are done in the United States each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. How do you know if you should be one of the people undergoing this procedure? There are some specific circumstances when surgery might be recommended:

  • Your hip pain interferes with daily activities like walking, bending, and other routine activities of daily life.
  • Pain and stiffness in the hip that limits your range of motion
  • Hip pain that does not improve when resting or at night
  • Insufficient relief from medications, walking assistance or therapy exercises

Our team at the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio will provide a comprehensive assessment of your condition, symptoms and concerns to help you determine whether surgery might be the best option for you.

Implant Options

Hip implants consist of two primary components designed to work together as the natural hip joint. The first component is the ball component, which replaces the damaged femoral head. The ball features a long stem that is set into the femur after space is created inside the bone. The ball is usually constructed of metal or a stable ceramic material. The second component is the synthetic socket that fits into the pelvic bone. This component may also be crafted of metal, ceramic or durable plastic. There are also different options for attaching the prosthesis to the bone. Your surgeon will determine the best device and method based on the level of damage to your joint and other factors.

Hip Replacement Surgery Overview

Your surgeon will perform your hip replacement under general or regional anesthesia, ensuring you will be comfortable during the operation. An incision will be made along the hip to allow for access to the damaged joint, so the prosthetic may be placed. Some patients may qualify for a less invasive technique depending on body habitus and hip abnormality. Your surgeon will determine whether this method might be an option for you.

The procedure will take a few hours as the surgeon removes the damaged areas of bone, so the prosthetic can adhere securely to the joint. You may also spend a few days in the hospital after your surgery to receive the attentive care necessary during the early days of your recovery process. Some patients may qualify for outpatient hip surgery, and may go home the same day. Once you are ready to leave the hospital, you will most likely be discharged to your home. However, some patients may need to go to a rehab facility to recover.

Total Hip Replacement Recovery

You are strongly encouraged to begin walking soon after your hip replacement surgery, since this can reduce your risk for blood clots and speed the healing process. You may also be required to take blood-thinning medication and wear compression stockings for a few weeks after your procedure to further reduce your clot risk. You will also have supervised physical therapy and exercises to perform at home to strengthen your new hip and restore your range of motion. The better you adhere to your exercise program, the quicker and more comfortable your recovery is likely to be. Most hip replacement patients are back to their usual routine activities within four to six weeks, and almost all non-strenuous activities within 8 to 12 weeks.

Relief from Pain, Restoration of Activity

Hip replacement offers significant relief from pain and stiffness for most patients, which can be very long-lasting. This procedure has a high patient satisfaction rate when it is performed well, which is why choosing an experienced surgeon is so critical to the process. Our surgeons have considerable experience and expertise in a variety of hip replacement techniques including the latest technologies available, allowing us to tailor surgery to the unique needs of each of our patients. Contact the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio today at 419-222-6622 to schedule a consultation and find out if hip replacement is right for you.