During hip replacement, a surgeon removes the damaged sections of your hip joint and replaces them with parts usually constructed of metal and very hard plastic. This artificial joint (prosthesis) helps reduce pain and improve function.
Also called total hip arthroplasty, hip replacement surgery may be an option for you if your hip pain interferes with daily activities and more-conservative treatments haven’t helped. Arthritis damage is the most common reason to need hip replacement.
Why it’s done
Conditions that can damage the hip joint, sometimes necessitating hip replacement surgery, include:
Osteoarthritis. Commonly known as wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis damages the slick cartilage that covers the ends of bones and helps joints move smoothly.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Caused by an overactive immune system, rheumatoid arthritis produces a type of inflammation that can erode bone and cartilage and deform joints.
Osteonecrosis. If there is inadequate blood supply to the ball portion of the hip joint, the bone may collapse and deform.
You might consider hip replacement if you’re experiencing hip pain that:
- Persists, despite pain medication
- Worsens with walking, even with a cane or walker
- Interferes with your sleep
- Affects your ability to go up or down stairs
- Makes it difficult to rise from a seated position
Total Hip Replacement Animated Video
How you prepare
Before surgery you’ll meet with your orthopedic surgeon for an examination. The surgeon will:
Ask about your medical history and current medications
Do a brief general physical examination to make sure you’re healthy enough to undergo surgery
Examine your hip, paying attention to the range of motion in your joint and the strength of the surrounding muscles
Order blood tests, an X-ray and possibly an MRI
This preoperative evaluation is a good opportunity for you to ask questions about the procedure. Be sure to find out which medications you should avoid or continue to take in the week before surgery.