Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons

Hip Joint Replacement

Why a Hip Joint Replacement Might Be Right for You

Hip joint replacement is an orthopedic procedure recommended when hip pain interferes with daily activities, and nonsurgical treatments haven’t been effective or no longer work. There can be several causes for hip pain and joint replacement surgery, ranging from trauma to disease, and the extent of damage to a hip joint dictates the type of hip replacement surgery recommended.

A doctor talking to a patient while holding the model of a hip joint.

What is a Hip Joint Replacement?

Hip replacement is a surgery where the damaged section of your hip joint is replaced with metal, ceramic, or extremely hard plastic as an artificial joint. The surgery is also known as hip arthroplasty and comes in two forms: partial hip replacement and total joint replacement. The new joint, or hip, is called a prosthesis and helps to reduce the pain in a patient’s hip while restoring its function.

Partial Hip Replacement

In a partial hip joint replacement surgery, the surgeon replaces only the ball of a patient’s hip joint and replaces it with an artificial ball made of metal, plastic, or ceramic.

Total Hip Replacement Surgery

In total hip replacement surgery, the damaged bone and cartilage are removed before being replaced with prosthetic parts. The bones replaced include the femoral head and the socket it sits in. Screws or cement are sometimes used to secure the socket in place.

An elder woman holding the back of her hip in pain as she walks with a cane.

Why a Hip Joint Replacement Surgery is Recommended

Hip arthroplasty is recommended for patients that either suffer from a disease that has sufficiently damaged the hip joint and bone or experience symptoms that impede the hip’s function. The diseases that may lead to a hip replacement surgery recommendation include:

  • Osteoarthritis: this is sometimes referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis. This disease damages the slick cartilage at the ends of bones which helps the joints move smoothly.
  • Osteonecrosis: This is when enough blood isn’t supplied to the ball portion of the hip joint and can occur from a dislocation or fracture, leading the hip bone to collapse or deform.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is caused by an overactive immune system that creates inflammation, eroding cartilage, and sometimes the underlying bone. Ultimately it can result in damaged and deformed joints in the hip.

Beyond the diseases that affect bone or joints, there are other experiences that can mean hip replacement surgeries being recommended:

  • Hip pain that persists, despite prescribed pain medication
  • Hip pain that interferes with or prevents sleep
  • Hip pain that impedes basic functions, like dressing or going up and downstairs
  • Hip pain that makes it difficult to rise from a sitting position
  • Hip pain that worsens with walking, despite a cane or walker.
Someone pointing to an x-Ray of a hip joint with a pen.

Hip Replacement Surgery Explained

Hip replacement surgery, whether partial or total, can be described in three stages: preparation, the surgery itself, and recovery from surgery.

Hip Replacement Surgery Preparation

The orthopedic surgeon reviews your medical history and any medications being taken

The surgeon will examine the hip's range of motion and muscle strength around the hip joints

The surgeon will order blood tests and an X-ray, sometimes an MRI as well, but that is in rare cases.

Before scheduling the surgery, the doctor will answer any questions the patient has and discuss medications that should be avoided.

Benefits of Hip Replacement Surgery

Whether a total or partial hip joint replacement surgery, there are several benefits to the patient:

  • Eliminates hip pain: the primary reason patients seek hip replacement surgery is to walk and move without hip pain.
  • Restoring mobility: Replacing the joint with surgery helps restore movement and activity to normal or almost normal. Many patients resume their normal activities and hobbies that had been previously hindered due to hip pain.
  • Reduction of chronic health conditions: According to studies presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 2013, hip replacement surgery is associated with a reduction in mortality, heart failure, diabetes, and rates of depression.

Hip Replacement Surgery

  1. A spinal block that numbs the lower half of the body is administered or a general anesthetic is given.
  2. An incision is made over the front or side of the hip before removing diseased or damaged bone and cartilage.
  3. The surgeon replaces the round ball at the top of the femur with a prosthetic one, attaching it to a stem fitting into the thigh bone.

These three steps are standard whether a partial or total hip replacement surgery is being performed with slight variations. No matter the type of hip surgery, they take several hours to complete.

A woman assisting an elder lady with walking.

Hip Replacement Recovery

Depending on the needs of the patient, hip replacement recovery is predominantly done at home. After the surgery, the patient is moved to a recovery room for the anesthesia to wear off and the medical staff can monitor the pulse, blood pressure, comfort level, any pain, and medications that are needed.

Often, patients return home the same day as the surgery is performed. The surgeon will require follow-up care to ensure proper healing and give instructions for home recovery, such as:

  • Keep everyday items at waist level to avoid bending down
  • Physical therapy
  • Home assistance, whether a friend, family member, or caregiver

Make an Appointment with our Hip Specialists

If you’ve suffered any of the symptoms listed above, we encourage you to make an appointment with our hip specialists!

We at Proliance Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons strive to help our patients achieve a return to normal activity through compassionate and exceptional care using evidence-based medicine in a patient-friendly environment. We are committed to bringing you a high standard of care that is patient-focused, with the goal of improving your quality of life.