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Your Hip Replacement Guide — Understanding Artificial Hip Implants

Hip Replacement Guide

Hip pain and dysfunction can become a serious drain on your quality of life. Since we use our hips to do nearly any daily task, hip joint damage can take you away from your family, your job and your favorite activities. What were once easy activities can quickly become difficult or even impossible tasks. 

Conservative treatments can be effective, but many people still experience pain after fully exploring their options for hip pain. This is why so many patients turn to hip replacement surgery and artificial hip implants. By replacing damaged joint surfaces with an artificial hip implant, it is possible for people to regain hip function and experience reduced pain. 

To help you better understand hip replacement procedures, we’re happy to share the following guide. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the full range of treatment options we offer here at USA Spine & Orthopedics, please reach out to us today. 

Hip replacement surgery basics

A hip replacement surgery is a procedure performed by an orthopedic surgeon that involves removing damaged surfaces of the hip joint and replacing them with an artificial hip implant. Traditional approaches to hip replacement require an inpatient procedure, but many patients are able to undergo outpatient hip replacement thanks to advancements in surgical technique and anesthesia protocols. 

The right procedure and hip implant for each patient depends on a variety of factors. This is why patients will usually undergo a thorough evaluation from their surgical provider. 

Why do patients need an artificial hip?

The most common reason for needing a hip replacement and having an artificial hip implanted is age-related damage to the hip joint. As we get older, the cartilage and lubricating fluid that protects the joints becomes brittle and starts to deteriorate. This leads to increased bone-on-bone contact and friction that begins to damage the hip bones themselves. In addition to age-related conditions, such as arthritis, repeated injuries can also speed up hip degeneration. This can lead to a condition known as post-traumatic arthritis. 

Common signs of hip joint damage include stiffness, aches, pains and abnormal bone growths, such as bone spurs. Extensive hip joint damage is progressive in nature and can lead to serious debilitation. An artificial hip implant replaces these damaged joint surfaces with a fully functioning prosthesis that allows for increased mobility with decreased pain. 

What is a hip implant made of?

According to the FDA, hip implants are devices designed to improve mobility and relieve symptoms of hip damage. Each type of artificial hip implant has a unique size, shape and dimensions, and is made of different materials. However, it is also important to understand that the exact same hip implant system can have different results depending on the patient. 

The primary materials that are used to create different hip implants are a combination of metal, durable medical grade plastic and/or ceramics. Typically the ball of the artificial hip is made of metal or ceramic material, while the socket may be plastic, metal or ceramic.   

When to consider hip replacement surgery

Hip replacement surgery is elective, but it is still considered a major procedure. For both of these reasons, patients diagnosed with hip damage related to arthritis, injury or other cause will typically be encouraged by their doctor to fully exhaust conservative therapies before undergoing a hip replacement surgery. These include:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Modifying daily activities to reduce stress on the hip joint
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Using hot and/or cold compression therapy to improve circulation and reduce inflammation
  • Undergoing physical therapy to improve function and strengthen the hip joint
  • Receiving a steroid injection to reduce inflammation on a medium term basis

If patients attempt these and other therapies for weeks and months without experiencing the relief necessary for a good quality of life, hip replacement can become a serious consideration. When consulting with an orthopedic surgeon regarding the possibility of hip replacement surgery, you can expect to undergo a thorough evaluation that includes review of medical history, a physical examination, ordering of new diagnostic imagery and a full medical screening. 

What to expect during the procedure and recovery

Patients will receive a set of instructions before their operation, including when to stop eating and drinking fluids. Hip replacement surgery is performed under full anesthesia. The surgeon will make one or more incisions to access the hip joint, remove the damaged joint surfaces and fit and place the artificial hip implant. He or she will then reattach or replace soft tissue and close the incision. Less invasive techniques now allow for a smaller incision and less disruption of surrounding tissue. 

The patient will then be brought to recovery, stabilized and have their vitals checked by the postoperative team. The days and weeks after hip replacement surgery are critical to ensuring a positive outcome. Patients should closely follow all postsurgical instructions and commit to the rehabilitation process. 

While it is important to rest and ensure proper healing, patients are also encouraged to begin moving and regaining function as soon as is safely possible. A critical part of ensuring a successful hip replacement is rebuilding strength and range of motion in the hip through daily activity and physical therapy exercises. 

Learn more about hip joint treatment at USA Spine & Orthopedics

The caring and dedicated team at USA Spine Care & Orthopedics has extensive experience helping patients dealing with hip joint pain find relief and a return to healthy functioning. No matter where you are in your treatment journey, our team can help you develop a personalized treatment plan. From physical therapy to hip replacement surgery, our goal is to help you find the therapies that can get you back to a more active lifestyle with the people you love. 

Contact us today to learn more. 

Hip Replacement Quick Answers

Is a hip replacement a major operation?

Hip replacement is generally considered to be major surgery, even when surgeons use minimally invasive techniques. This means that patients will usually first explore conservative therapies, including physical therapy, steroid injections and lifestyle changes before surgery becomes a consideration. Patients should follow all pre- and postoperative instructions to ensure the best chance of a successful hip replacement outcome.  

What is the average age for a hip replacement?

Patients between 60 and 80 are the most common group to undergo hip replacement. However, older and younger people very often undergo these procedures as well. In very rare cases, patients in their late teens and twenties may require hip replacement. 

Can you wait too long to have hip replacement?

Although older patients usually receive hip replacement surgery, it is possible to wait too long. If joints continue to deteriorate and cause damage to bone surfaces, it can be associated with a less effective outcome. Patients with hip joint damage who have fully exhausted conservative therapies should seriously consider hip replacement surgery as an option. 

How long does it take to fully recover from a hip replacement?

The standard answer is that each patient is different and recovery time for hip replacement surgery depends on many factors. This includes the specific type of procedure, patient age, extent of hip joint damage, other health conditions and how much the patient commits to rehabilitation. Depending on these factors, recovery times can range from a matter of weeks to a few months.

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