What is a Total Joint Replacement of the Hip and When Would You Need It?
More than 450,000 patients undergo a total hip replacement each year. The surgery is a highly successful, long-term treatment of common but serious hip problems, in which implants recreate the ball and socket of a healthy hip.
If a surgeon has recommended the surgery to treat your hip pain, you’re likely contemplating what a total replacement will mean for you. Even if your daily routine has become difficult and other treatments have been ineffective, just the idea of a prosthetic hip can be scary. However, the procedure has a strong track record of reducing pain and restoring hip function to patients throughout the country. The success rate 10 years after surgery is between 90-95 percent and continues to be highly effective long after.
Typical conditions that lead to hip replacements are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Avascular necrosis
- A serious injury
When Would You Need a Hip Replacement?
If you suffer from chronic, severe hip pain, and other treatments haven’t succeeded in managing your symptoms, you might be a candidate for hip replacement surgery. While causes of severe hip damage vary, the most common is Osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis afflicting people 55 and older in which the cartilage between the bones of the hip wears away. This eventually causes the bones to rub against each other, resulting in pain and stiffness in the hip.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, another source of stiffness and hip pain, is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation between the bones of the hip joint that wears down the cartilage. But a fall could also result in a long-term lack of mobility and other debilitating hip problems. Any of these conditions could lead to a need for a hip replacement. Candidates for the surgery tend to experience:
- Significant stiffness of the hip, even when lying down, that hasn’t responded to physical therapy
- Severe pain that hinders their ability to perform day-to-day activities
- Inability to manage their pain with anti-inflammatory medications, a walking cane or other methods
What is a Total Hip Joint Replacement?
The first step in a total hip replacement is the surgical removal of the damaged head of the femur and damaged cartilage. Next, the impaired bone from the hip socket is replaced with a metal socket, which is secured in place with a liner that allows the joint to move freely. A stem is placed in the femur, which attaches to a ball that fits in the socket to mimic the original joint. The surgeon tests the joint to ensure it can function properly before completing the surgery.
There may be slight differences in the procedure, depending on the severity of the disease and other factors. As the name indicates, a total replacement is different than a partial hip replacement, which generally involves the removal and replacement of the ball of the hip joint, not the socket.
Recovery from Hip Replacement Surgery
Patients should expect a lengthy recovery following the surgery. Physical therapy (PT) is vital to a smooth recovery process, which usually lasts between three and six weeks. At MidAmerica Orthopaedics, our physical therapists design a recovery routine for each patient that helps strengthen the new hip, increases their mobility and helps them to return to their daily activities as soon as possible.
Education and rehabilitation are both key to a quicker recovery. Post-surgery exercises, the use of a walker, and guidelines to prepare your home are all things you can ask about in advance. Some patients are able to return home the same day as their procedure, as long as certain safety measures are in place. Talk to your physician to find out what to expect and how to best prepare for your rehabilitation.
Other Possible Treatments for Hip Pain at MidAmerica
Less invasive, non-surgical treatments like corticosteroid injections and PT are generally recommended to manage hip pain before surgery is proposed. Patients should work closely with a trusted and experienced orthopaedic specialist to examine the joint, get to the root of the problem, and discuss all possible treatments.
Once it’s clear that a total hip replacement is the right path forward, you’ll want to select a highly experienced orthopaedic physician. Sarkis M. Bedikian D.O. is an orthopaedic surgeon at MidAmerica Orthopaedics who specializes in adult reconstruction procedures, including hip and knee replacement. A partner like Doctor Bedikian counsels patients before and after their procedures so that each one achieves their optimum health and quality of life.