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Hip replacement

Various conditions can lead to hip replacement

The hip, one of the body's largest joints, is a ball-and-socket joint. The femoral head of the thighbone, or femur, is the ball portion, fitting into a socket portion of the pelvis.

The most common cause of chronic hip pain is various forms of arthritis including:

  • osteoarthritis that results from age-related wear-and-tear, 
  • rheumatoid arthritis in which the cushioning, or synovial, membrane in the joint becomes inflamed and thickened, or 
  • post-injury arthritis that sets in after an injury or fracture.

Some hip diseases or other injuries can cause hip pain, as well.

In hip replacement surgery, your surgeon will:

  • Remove the ball of your hip joint.
  • Shape your hip socket and remove the remaining damaged cartilage and arthritic bone.
  • Put the new hip cup and liner in place, then insert a metal stem and either a ceramic or a metal ball into your thigh bone.
  • Secure all the new parts in place.
  • Repair the muscles and tendons around the new joint.

Who is a candidate for hip replacement?

Hip replacement surgery may be considered for those suffering from arthritic hip pain that severely limits the activities of daily living. It is only recommended after careful examination and diagnosis of your particular joint problem, and only after more conservative measures such as exercise, physical therapy and medications have proven ineffective.

What kind of hip implant is best?

There are many kinds and designs of hip implants available today, and no one design or type is best for every patient or their particular situation. Each surgeon selects the implant that they believe is best for their patient's needs based on a number of factors including age, activity level, the implant’s track record, and his or her comfort with the instruments associated with the particular implant. If you have specific questions regarding implants, your surgeon will be happy to answer them for you.

What are the risks?

Even though hip replacement surgery is considered a very successful procedure, it is major surgery, and as with any surgery, there are risks you need to be aware of. Possible complications include:

  • Blood clots in your leg veins
  • Infection
  • Implant loosening
  • Fractures
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage
  • Hip dislocation
  • Change of leg length

How long is the recovery period?

Once again, this can vary from person to person, but most people will need to use an ambulation aid such as a walker for four weeks or so. Driving may be possible in four to six weeks, and activities such as golf and bowling can be resumed in as few as 10 to 12 weeks. Some activities such as singles tennis and skiing are not recommended after hip replacement. Most people will be able to go straight home from the hospital, though some patients, particularly those who live alone, may need to spend a few days at a rehab center or nursing home. Keep in mind that healing and recovery times can vary.