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Total Hip Replacement

Understanding how your hip works

Whether you have just begun exploring treatment options or have already decided with your orthopedic surgeon to undergo hip replacement surgery, this information will help you understand the benefits and limitations of total hip replacement. This page describes how a normal hip works, the causes of hip pain, what to expect from hip replacement surgery, and what exercises and activities will help restore your mobility and strength and enable you to return to everyday activities.

If your hip has been damaged by arthritis, a fracture or other conditions, common activities such as walking or getting in and out of a chair may be painful and difficult. Your hip may be stiff and it may be hard to put on your shoes and socks. You may even feel uncomfortable while resting.

If medications, changes in your everyday activities, and the use of walking aids such as a cane are not helpful, you may want to consider hip replacement surgery. By replacing your diseased hip joint with an artificial joint, hip replacement surgery can relieve your pain, increase motion, and help you get back to enjoying normal, everyday activities.

First performed in 1960, hip replacement surgery is one of the most important surgical advances of the last century. Since 1960, improvements in joint replacement surgical techniques and technology have greatly increased the effectiveness of total hip replacement. Today, more than 193,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States. Similar surgical procedures are performed on other joints, including the knee, shoulder, and elbow.

How The Hip Works

The hip is one of the body's largest weight-bearing joints. It consists of two main parts: a ball (femoral head) at the top of your thighbone (femur) that fits into a rounded socket (acetabulum) in your pelvis. Bands of tissue called ligaments (hip capsule) connect the ball to the socket and provide stability to the joint.

The bone surfaces of the ball and socket have a smooth durable cover of articular cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones and enables them to move easily.

A thin, smooth tissue called synovial membrane covers all remaining surfaces of the hip joint. In a healthy hip, this membrane makes a small amount of fluid that lubricates and almost eliminates friction in your hip joint.

Normally, all of these parts of your hip work in harmony, allowing you to move easily and without pain.

Is Hip Replacement Surgery for You?

Whether to have hip replacement surgery should be a cooperative decision made by you, your family, your primary care doctor, and your orthopedic surgeon. The process of making this decision typically begins with a referral by your doctor to an orthopedic surgeon for an initial evaluation.

Although many patients who undergo hip replacement surgery are 60 to 80 years of age, orthopedic surgeons evaluate patients individually. Recommendations for surgery are based on the extent of your pain, disability, and general health status-not solely on age.

You may benefit from hip replacement surgery if:

  • Hip pain limits your everyday activities such as walking or bending.
  • Hip pain continues while resting, either day or night.
  • Stiffness in a hip limits your ability to move or lift your leg.
  • You have little pain relief from anti-inflammatory drugs or glucosamine sulfate.
  • You have harmful or unpleasant side effects from your hip medications.
  • Other treatments such as physical therapy or the use of a gait aid such as a cane do not relieve hip pain.

 

 

 

 

   

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