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Total Hip Replacement

Patients with advanced arthritis or chronic hip joint pain may be candidates for either traditional total hip replacement (total hip arthroplasty) or Birmingham hip resurfacing.

In a traditional total hip replacement, the head of the thighbone (femoral head) and the damaged socket (acetabulum) are both removed and replaced with metal, plastic or ceramic components.

In hip resurfacing, the femoral head is not removed, but is instead trimmed and capped with a smooth metal cover. The damaged bone and cartilage within the socket are removed and replaced with a metal shell, just as in a traditional total hip replacement.

Each of these procedures is a type of hip replacement, but there are important differences between the two. Your orthopedic surgeon will talk with you about the different procedures and help you decide which operation would be best for you.

Is Hip Replacement Surgery Right for Me?

Whether to have hip replacement surgery should be a cooperative decision made by you, your family and your orthopedic surgeon. The process of making this decision typically begins with a referral by your primary care doctor to an orthopedic surgeon for an initial evaluation.

Alternatives to traditional total hip replacement surgery that your orthopedic surgeon may discuss with you include Birmingham hip resurfacing or surgery that utilizes an anterior approach. Recommendations for surgery are based on the extent of your pain, disability and general health status—not solely on age.

The following are some symptoms that hip replacement candidates suffer from:

  • Hip pain limits your everyday activities, such as walking or bending
  • Hip pain continues while resting, either day or night
  • Stiffness in a hip limits your ability to move or lift your leg
  • You have little pain relief from anti-inflammatory drugs or glucosamine sulfate
  • You have harmful or unpleasant side effects from your hip medications
  • Other treatments, such as physical therapy or the use of a cane, do not relieve hip pain

The Anatomy of Hip Joint Pain

The hip is one of the body's largest weight-bearing joints. It consists of two main parts: a ball (femoral head) at the top of your thighbone (femur) that fits into a rounded socket (acetabulum) in your pelvis. Bands of tissue called ligaments (hip capsule) connect the ball to the socket and provide stability to the joint.

Overcoming Joint Disease

If your hip has been damaged by arthritis, a joint fracture or other conditions, common activities, such as walking or getting in and out of a chair, may be painful and difficult. Your hip might be stiff, and it could be hard to put on your shoes and socks. You may even feel uncomfortable while resting.

If medications, changes in your everyday activities and the use of walking aids, such as a cane, are not helpful, you might want to consider hip replacement surgery. By replacing your diseased hip joint with an artificial joint, hip replacement surgery can relieve your joint pain and swelling, increase motion and help you get back to enjoying normal, everyday activities.

When Synovial Fluid Is No Longer Enough

The bone surfaces of the ball and socket have a smooth, durable cover of articular cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones and enables them to move easily. A thin, smooth tissue called synovial membrane covers all remaining surfaces of the hip joint. In a healthy hip, this membrane makes a small amount of synovial fluid that lubricates and almost eliminates friction in your hip joint.

Normally, all of these parts of your hip work in harmony, allowing you to move easily and without hip joint pain.

To learn more about this procedure, call 678-312-5000.