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Signs you May Need Hip Joint Replacement Surgery

Feb 9, 2015

If you’re experiencing pain in your hip due to an injury or arthritis, you understand the affect that it has on your everyday life. When arthritis or injuries are severe, many times your only option is to have a hip joint replacement.

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint and is one of the largest joints in the body. It’s made up of the acetabulum which is the part of the pelvis bone that forms the socket and the femoral head which is the upper end of the femur that forms the ball.

The surfaces of the ball and socket are coated with articular cartilage that provides cushioning for the joint as it moves. The synovial membrane, the tissue that surrounds the hip, creates fluid that lubricates the cartilage to reduce friction during movement.  In a damaged hip, the articular cartilage becomes worn down so that the ends of the bones rub against each other without any form of cushioning. This causes a great deal of pain for the patient.

It’s important to contact your doctor to find out if you’re a candidate for hip replacement surgery. If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, you will probably be recommended for surgery:

  • Pain that prevents you from walking or bending the joint
  • Pain while at rest, during the day, or at night
  • Stiffness in the hip that prevents you from lifting your leg
  • No relief from non-surgical treatment methods

There are many diseases and conditions that can cause a hip injury severe enough to warrant a hip replacement. If you’ve experienced any of the following conditions, you may be a candidate for hip replacement surgery:

  • Arthritis can cause the synovial fluid to become inflamed and results in cartilage wearing away. Without the cartilage, the ends of the bones rub together without cushioning and they begin to wear down. Surgery is necessary in advanced cases of arthritis where the bones are severely worn down.
  • Avascular necrosis occurs when the blood supply to the femoral head is limited due to an injury to the hip like a dislocation or fracture.

When you’re experiencing stiffness and pain in your hip, visit an orthopaedic physician to have your hip evaluated to determine whether or not you’re in need of surgery. Your physician will assess your general health and your medical history, then a physical evaluation will be performed to assess the mobility, strength, and alignment of your hip. Finally, you’ll undergo a few tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, so your physicians can actually see the damage or deformity of your hip.

The Surgery

In a hip replacement surgery, the damaged bone and cartilage is removed and replaced with plastic, metal, or ceramic pieces. The damaged femoral head is replaced with a metal stem that fits into the hollow center of the femur. Then, a metal or ceramic ball is inserted into the upper part of the stem to replace the damaged femoral head that was removed. The damaged cartilage of the socket is replaced with a metal socket and may be kept in place with screws or cement. A spacer is also inserted between the ball and socket to provide a smooth surface that allows comfortable joint movement.

If you’re dealing with severe hip pain and stiffness that persists even when at rest, you may need to undergo a hip joint replacement. This surgery will relieve your pain and help you return to the activities you enjoy most. For more information on how to find a reputable surgeon, download our educational e-book, How to Choose an Orthopaedic Surgeon.