Updated Oct. 19, 2020
When you’re experiencing stiffness in your hip, it can be difficult to stand up out of a chair, walk short distances, or go up stairs. Total joint replacement helps people regain a quality of life that gets lost with years of pain and limitation caused by joint damage. And hip replacement surgery is one of the most commonly performed joint replacement operations.
For more information, contact UPMC Orthopaedic Care.
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When Do You Need Hip Replacement Surgery?
Osteoarthritis is the primary cause of joint damage and pain that leads to hip replacement surgery. The hip is called a “ball and socket” joint; the upper end of the thighbone (the femoral head) is the ball, which fits into a part of the pelvic bone called the acetabulum (the socket).
Cartilage covers the ball and the socket, allowing your hip to rotate inside. When you have arthritis, the cartilage starts to break down and the bones rub together. This causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. You may even experience pain deep in your groin or knees.
Osteoarthritis often develops with age, but it can also develop over time from a joint injury. For many people, medications, exercises, cortisone shots, and other noninvasive measures are enough to manage pain. Your doctor will always try nonsurgical interventions before recommending surgery.
You may reach a point, however, where you need hip replacement surgery. During surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon removes the damaged tissue and replaces the femoral head and the socket with prosthetic parts.
Some signs that it’s time to talk to your doctor about hip replacement surgery include:
- Pain that isn’t controlled by medications
- Pain and stiffness that stops you from doing daily activities
- Significant damage to the joint or advanced arthritis
- Avascular necrosis, or an injury that cuts off blood supply to the femoral head, leading to arthritis
In addition to arthritis, some hip fractures can also necessitate replacement if the damage can’t be repaired any other way.
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Should You Have Hip Replacement Surgery?
Having major surgery is a scary prospect. But hip replacement surgery has come a long way over the years, with longer-lasting materials, less-invasive surgical techniques, and faster recovery times. Recent statistics reported by U.S. News & World Report have found that hip replacements are more prevalent in the past decade, and more people under age 60 are having the surgery.
“The benefits of minimally invasive surgery for our patients is that we’re able to do surgical techniques through smaller incisions,” says Mark Gardner, DO, orthopaedic surgeon, UPMC Horizon.
“These smaller incisions lead to less taking down the muscle, less injury to the patient’s muscular and fascial structures, and we’re able to get a good replacement of the patient’s hip with less damage. This provides the patient to be able to leave the hospital sooner and get back to their normal activities of daily living. Most patients are able to accomplish this through this minimally invasive technique.”
People of all ages who are healthy enough to undergo surgery may be candidates for the operation; the decision is based primarily on disability. To decide if you should have hip replacement surgery, start with an open conversation with your physician. Be sure to cover:
- Risks and benefits of surgery
- Surgical techniques and recovery time
- Outcomes for someone your age and in your health
- Symptoms or treatment options if you don’t have surgery
The younger and more active you are, the more wear your joints will experience. Younger people may need revision surgery at some point in their lives. Thankfully, even revision surgery is safe and allows you to go on with your daily activities.
Choosing to have surgery is a personal decision, and your doctor can talk you through your options to help you find the best path for you. For more information, contact UPMC Orthopaedic Care.
“We will work with a patient to return to their normal activities of daily living with less pain, more function, and overall good results through our team approach,” Dr. Gardner says.
About UPMC Orthopaedic Care
As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, UPMC treats a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. Whether you have bone, muscle, or joint pain, we provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. As leaders in research and clinical trials with cutting-edge tools and techniques, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside appears on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top hospitals in the country for orthopaedics.