A total hip replacement surgery is a significant life-changing decision and something that you must carefully consider. Hip pain can cause soreness, stiffness, and in severe cases, inflammation. If your hip pain is interfering with day-to-day activities like taking a short walk, it may be time to consider surgery. Most patients elect to undergo a hip replacement to relieve pain and stiffness brought on by osteoarthritis.
Hip replacement surgery can relieve your painful symptoms and increase your mobility and ability to function. However, conservative treatments should be attempted whenever possible as they are sufficient for some patients.
Below, you will find helpful information on hip replacement surgery and the signs that it is a suitable treatment option for you.
What Is a Hip Replacement?
Hip replacement surgery, or hip arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which an orthopaedic surgeon removes the diseased parts of the hip joint and replaces them with new, artificial parts. These artificial parts mimic the function of the normal hip joint.
The main tissues involved with hip replacement are the ball and socket — the two bones that form the hip joint. The ball, called the femoral head, forms the top of the femur bone and the lower part of the hip joint. The socket, called the acetabulum, forms part of the pelvic bone and the top part of the hip joint.
During a hip replacement, the surgeon makes an incision over the side of the thigh and removes the diseased or damaged bone and cartilage from the hip joint. Next, the surgeon replaces the head of the femur and acetabulum with new, artificial parts. Surgeons try to perform hip replacement with smallest incision possible to try to limit the amount of injury to the soft tissues and bone.
The implant consists of a ceramic ball and a titanium socket. The ceramic ball is attached to a metal stem that gets inserted into the femur bone to stabilize the artificial joint. The titanium cup is attached to the pelvic bone, letting the artificial hip joint move freely. In some cases, patients only need a partial hip replacement. In these cases, the surgeon only replaces the hip joint ball and leaves the socket as is.
There are three options for hip replacement surgery:
- Anterior Hip Replacement: The surgeon accesses the hip joint from the front of the patient’s body.
- Lateral Hip Replacement: The surgeon accesses the joint from the patient’s side.
- Posterior Hip Replacement: As the patient lies face down or on their side, the surgeon accesses the hip joint from the back.
7 Signs to Know if You Need a Hip Replacement
How do you know if hip replacement is the right option for you? Let’s take a look at the most common signs that will help you decide if you need hip replacement surgery.
1. Chronic Hip Pain
The first, and perhaps most obvious, sign that you should consider a hip replacement is hip pain. Hip pain should not interfere with your ability to live your life. If your pain affects your daily life, disrupts your sleeping habits or both, the damage may be serious enough to consider a hip replacement.
If you experience any of the following, you should talk to an orthopedic specialist immediately:
- You rely on painkillers to deal with the pain.
- Conservative treatments have not helped your pain.
- Your pain keeps you awake at night despite the use of pain medications.
- Your pain is not relieved by rest during the day or night.
- Your pain makes it difficult to walk or bend over.
- You compensate for your pain with a limp.
- You rely on a walking aid to relieve your hip pain.
2. Routine Tasks Are Difficult to Complete
Simple tasks such as standing up, walking or taking the stairs can be incredibly difficult and painful for someone in need of hip replacement. Some people remain unaffected by their limited mobility, but if your hip pain limits your mobility to the point of interfering with your daily life, consider speaking with a physician about your options.
Even if you can manage the pain, significant disability of the hip joint can make even the most routine tasks difficult or impossible, such as:
- Putting on your shoes or socks
- Walking normal distances
- Standing on one leg, even with assistance for balance
- Inability to move or bear weight on the affected leg
3. Acute Hip Stiffness
Stiffness in a hip joint is a telltale sign that a hip may need to be replaced. Many patients in need of hip replacements will also experience stiffness when attempting to simple tasks, such as putting on shoes or gardening. If you find that you are experiencing joint stiffness that makes walking or bending your hip joint difficult or you cannot lift your leg, speak with an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible. While acute hip stiffness is normal if you have experienced an injury, chronic hip stiffness warrants prompt medical attention. Acute hip stiffness occurs suddenly and goes away in a short time. In contrast, chronic hip stiffness persists indefinitely.
4. Grating or Rubbing
There may be visible changes to the outer surface of your hip, such as redness and swelling caused by inflammation. Sometimes, you may hear a grating, grinding or popping sound when you move your hip — this is called crepitus. It is caused by the bones in your hip joint rubbing against each other or air bubbles popping between the joints.
5. Other Treatments Do Not Work
Hip replacement surgery is never the first option. Surgery is an effective treatment option if your painful symptoms have not responded to medication or physical therapy. Some patients find that pain medication efficiently relieves symptoms. Most treatments for hip pain only work temporarily with injections lasting for only a couple of months. Pain medications often carry the risk of adverse side effects, like drowsiness, and only last a few hours. Hip replacement surgery is the only option that reassures your freedom from painful symptoms for years to come.
Your doctor will probably attempt conservative treatment options initially, including:
- Physical Therapy: Strengthens and stabilizes muscles surrounding the hip joint and preserves or restores the hip’s range of motion, at least partially.
- Steroid Injections: Reduces swelling and blocks pain signals.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Reduces inflammation in the hip joint, which can relieve pain.
- Acupuncture: Promotes increased blood flow to the injured area to aid healing, relax muscles and reduce inflammation.
6. Hip Joints Are Damaged or Arthritic
Your hip is a ball-and-socket joint. Cartilage and synovial fluid reduce the friction where the pelvic bone socket and the femoral head join. Patients with deformed or damaged hip joints should consider hip replacement surgery. Joints that are damaged worsen over time, and it may be harder to correct them. Both osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are known to cause severe damage to your hip joints. Choosing hip replacement surgery helps you regain the quality of your life by alleviating uncomfortable symptoms.
7. Reduced Mental Wellbeing
Never underestimate the impact that reduced physical mobility can have on your mental wellbeing. Dealing with pain on a daily basis and having your sleep disturbed can be stressful. If your hip pain has reduced your mobility and this prevents you from working, you may also be facing the mental strain of financial hardship.
Over time, hip pain and reduced mobility can wear you down emotionally. Chronic (long-term) pain is linked to a greater risk of depression and anxiety. If you feel that your mental health has been affected by your symptoms, speak to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Things to Consider When Opting for Hip Replacement Surgery
As having your hip replaced involves major surgery and rehabilitation, it is usually only undertaken if other treatments have not been successful.
If you think you may need hip replacement surgery, here are a few factors to consider:
- You may have to use a walking aid for a couple of weeks after surgery
- You may need to make adaptations to your home to accommodate your recovery period
- You will need physiotherapy to teach you how to move with your new hip
- You will not be able to drive for a few weeks
- After 10-20 years, your prosthetic hip may become loose and need replacing
The most important factor when considering surgery is how much the daily pain and discomfort caused by your hip is affecting your quality of life.
Contact Ventura Orthopedic Today
Hip pain is a common complaint that can have many causes, from arthritis to muscle strain. In some cases, these issues could be signs you might need a hip replacement, especially if you continue to experience pain and discomfort.
For the past 40 years, millions of people have experienced relief from hip pain and arthritis and enjoyed restored mobility through total hip replacement. Hip replacement surgeries are surprisingly more routine than you may think and are performed on millions of patients worldwide each year. To diagnose your condition, an orthopedic surgeon will perform a thorough examination of your hip, analyze X-rays, and conduct physical tests.
To learn more about the procedure or to schedule an appointment with one of our hip replacement specialists, call us at 800-698-1280