Hip replacement (total hip arthroplasty) is surgery to replace a worn out or damaged hip joint. The surgeon replaces the old joint with an artificial joint (prosthesis). This surgery may be a choice after a hip fracture or for severe pain because of arthritis.
Various types of arthritis may affect the hip joint:
- Osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults. It may cause the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the hips.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis causes inflammation of the synovial lining of the joint. It causes extra synovial fluid. It may lead to severe pain and stiffness.
- Traumatic arthritis. This is arthritis is caused by an injury. It may also damage the hip cartilage.
The goal of hip replacement surgery is to replace the parts of the hip joint that have been damaged. It also helps relieve hip pain that can’t be controlled by other treatments.
A traditional hip replacement involves an incision several inches long over the hip joint. A newer approach uses 1 or 2 smaller incisions to do the surgery. This is called minimally invasive hip replacement. But the minimally invasive procedure is not suited for all people who need hip replacement. Your healthcare provider will figure out the best procedure for you.
Why might I need hip replacement surgery?
Hip replacement surgery is a treatment for pain and disability in the hip. Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for hip replacement surgery.
Osteoarthritis causes loss of joint cartilage in the hip. Damage to the cartilage and bones limits movement and may cause pain. People with severe pain from degenerative joint disease may not be able to do normal activities that involve bending at the hip. These activities include walking and sitting.
Other forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis that results from a hip injury can also damage the hip joint.
Hip replacement may also be used to treat certain hip fractures. A fracture is an injury often from a fall. Pain from a fracture is severe. Walking or even moving the leg causes pain.
If other medical treatments don’t control your arthritis pain, your healthcare provider may recommend a hip replacement. Some medical treatments for degenerative joint disease may include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
- Pain medicines
- Limiting activities that are painful
- Assistive devices for walking such as a cane
- Physical therapy
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a hip replacement surgery.