Total hip replacement, also referred to as total hip arthroplasty, involves the removal and replacement of damaged bone and cartilage from the hip. With this procedure, a patient substitutes damaged bone and cartilage with prosthetic components to alleviate hip pain and increase mobility.
What Conditions Are Treated by Hip Replacement Surgery?
Hip replacement surgery addresses arthritis, a leading cause of hip pain and disability. Common forms of arthritis include:
- Avascular Necrosis: Lack of blood supply that damages or destroys bone tissue.
- Childhood Hip Disease: Abnormal hip growth and development in kids that causes joint surface damage.
- Osteoarthritis: Breakdown of cartilage between the joints that results in pain, stiffness and swelling.
- Post-Traumatic Arthritis: Occurs after a hip injury or fracture and causes hip pain and stiffness to linger.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Swelling of the lining of the joints, leading to bone erosion and joint deformity.
Total Hip Replacement Anatomy
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint and one of the body’s largest joints. During total hip replacement, the damaged femoral head is removed and replaced with a metal stem. The metal stem is inserted into the hollow center of the femur, and a femoral stem is cemented or “press fit” into the bone. Next, a metal or ceramic ball is incorporated into the upper part of the femoral stem, replacing the damaged femoral head that was already removed. Damaged cartilage on the surface of the hip socket (acetabulum) is then removed and replaced with a metal socket. At this point, screws or cement may be used to keep the socket in place. Lastly, a plastic, ceramic or metal spacer is inserted between the new ball and socket to provide a smooth gliding surface.
What Are the Advantages of Total Hip Replacement?
Total hip replacement offers many benefits, including:
- Increased Mobility: Reduces or eliminates hip pain that otherwise prevents a person from performing everyday activities.
- Reduced Hip Stiffness: Minimizes hip stiffness that makes it difficult to lift or move the leg.
- Enhanced Pain Relief: Delivers pain relief without the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy or walking supports.
- Improved Sleep: Alleviates hip pain that makes it tough to sleep.
Candidates for Hip Replacement Surgery
There are no dietary or weight restrictions associated with hip replacement surgery, and the procedure can be performed on patients of all ages. The ideal candidates for surgery are those who experience hip pain or disability due to mobility. Individuals who undergo total hip replacement often fall and are on average between the ages of 50 and 80 years old.
An orthopedic surgeon evaluates each patient to determine whether he or she is a candidate for treatment. Prior to total hip replacement, a surgeon learns about a patient’s medical history, hip pain or disability and related symptoms. A surgeon also performs a physical examination and X-rays to analyze a patient’s hip alignment, mobility and strength and the severity of any hip damage or deformity. Additionally, a surgeon may request a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to examine the condition of the hip bone and soft tissues.
Total Hip Replacement Complications
The risk of total hip replacement complications is low, and chronic illnesses increase a patient’s risk of complications. Potential hip replacement complications include:
- Blood Clotting: Affects the leg or veins. Blood clotting is among the most common complications associated with total hip replacement and may be treated with ankle pump exercises, blood thinning medications or inflatable leg coverings.
- Dislocation: Causes one leg to feel longer or shorter than the other. To treat dislocation after hip replacement surgery, an orthopedic surgeon may recommend extending or shortening to even the length of the legs or a shoe lift to provide added stability.
- Infection: Occurs in the wound or around the prosthesis. Minor infections usually are treated with antibiotics, while major infections require surgery.
Total Hip Replacement Recovery
An orthopedic surgeon will provide full instructions for effective hip replacement surgery recovery. Prior to treatment, the surgeon will also offer details about expected recovery time.
A patient may have any stitches or staples removed approximately two weeks after surgery. Loss of appetite following surgery is common, and exercise plays a key role in the recovery process.
In many instances, a patient can return to normal activity within about three to six weeks of total hip replacement. Hip discomfort may occur in the first few weeks after surgery. A graduated walking program helps a patient increase his or her mobility over time, and specific exercises enable a patient to restore hip movement and strength.
Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon in Los Angeles
LA Peer Health Systems employs some of the country’s top orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors. We use the latest and most-effective total hip replacement procedures to help patients overcome hip pain. To schedule a consultation with one of our talented orthopedic surgeons, please call us at (855) 360-9119.