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What is Hip Replacement?

Hip replacement, medically termed arthroplasty, involves replacing diseased parts of the hip joint with artificial parts. These parts are referred to as the prosthesis. The goal of the procedure is to improve function of the hip joint, increase mobility and relieve pain. About 320,000 surgeries are performed in the US each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Who Should Consider Hip Replacement Surgery?

There are some general guidelines for determining who would be a good candidate for a hip replacement surgery. If you are considering it, it would be a good idea to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.

If you suffer from hip joint damage that causes pain and interferes with daily activities even after being treated by other means, hip replacement surgery may be something to consider. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of hip joint damage, but it can also be caused by osteonecrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, injury, fracture and bone tumors. In the past, this surgery was primarily performed on people over 60 but in recent times, with advances in technology that make the artificial parts more durable and able to withstand more stress and strain, it is being performed on people of younger age.

General health and activity level are primary factors as certain conditions and poorer health overall diminish the chances of a successful recovery.

Doctor Examining Male Patient With Hip Pain

What are the Alternatives to this Surgery?

Before considering this procedure, there may be other means of treatment, like exercise, walking aids and medications. Exercise programs can help strengthen the muscles around the hip joint. Walking aids can relieve some of the stress from damaged hips and delay or avoid surgery. Often times, medications used to control pain are general over-the-counter NSAIDS, though stronger medicines with narcotic pain relievers may be used. Corticosteroids may also be used, either orally or injected right into the joint. Another option may be a procedure called an osteotomy, which involves cutting and realigning the bone to move weight from the damaged part of the bone to a healthier one. It can take several months to recover, and you will likely need another surgery at some point. How long depends on the condition of the joint before the operation.

Is Cemented or Uncemented Prosthesis Better?

Cemented replacements are typically used for older, less active people with weaker bones, while the uncemented are more commonly used for more active, younger people. Research shows similar rates of success both for the initial surgery and revisions. Uncemented prosthesis has a longer recovery period because of the time it takes for the natural bone to grow and attach to the replacement part. You may have to limit activity for up to three months. This process may cause thigh pain.

What Can You Expect After Surgery?

Immediately after surgery, you are only allowed limited movement. Typically the day after the surgery, or sometimes that same day, a therapist will start teaching you exercises to aid your recovery. About one to two days after you can stand, or even walk with assistance. Because your artificial hip will have less movement than a natural one, you will learn proper techniques for simple activities such as sitting and bending to prevent injury. Full recovery can take about three to six months.