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Total Hip Replacement: How It Works

One of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body, hips endure daily strain and stress. Orthopaedic hip specialists and surgeons treat hip pain and prevent conditions from progressing through a host of techniques, including medication, physical therapy and surgery ranging from minimally invasive arthroscopy to full hip replacement. 

Support Structure

The hip is a stable ball-and-socket joint that consists of the femoral head (or ball) at the top of the femur that fits into the socket (or cavity) in the pelvis. Ligaments connect the ball to the socket and stabilize the bones. The labrum is a rim of cartilage (similar to the meniscus in the knee) that helps provide stability to the hip. Over time, or through injury, the hip joints can deteriorate or the labrum can tear. Patients complain of clicking and popping, and pain radiating to the groin and thighs, as well as difficulty bending. The most common causes of hip pain include:

  • Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes the cartilage in joints to break down. When this layer meant to cushion bones wears down, the bone ends rub together and cause pain. While there’s no cure for osteoarthritis, there are non-operative treatment methods that can reduce pain.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the lining of the joint called the synovium becomes inflamed. When inflammation occurs, the synovium thickens and releases chemicals that damage the cartilage and bone. It also causes pain and swelling, which limits motion.

  • Fracture. A hip fracture can occur in the upper portion of the thigh bone, or femur. This serious, painful injury often results from a fall. Factors such as age, disease, and being a woman can increase the probability of hip fracture. A woman is two to three times more likely to suffer a hip fracture than a man. After the age of 50, the chances increase and double every five years. Hip fracture surgery is done to repair a break in the upper part of the thigh bone.

  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to progressively weaken, which increases the risk of fracture. This can occur as part of the aging process and is typically more common in women. Osteoporosis can be treated with lifestyle changes, medication, and walking aids. In some cases, patients can benefit from hip replacement surgery.

  • Sprain/strain. A hip strain occurs when one of the muscles supporting the hip joint stretches beyond its limit, or tears. The pain will depend on the severity of the strain.

  • Labral Tear. The hip labrum can tear due to repetitive sports activities, trauma or age. Many tears can be managed conservatively. If conservative care fails, or if the patient is an athlete, hip arthroscopy can be performed to repair or remove the torn hip labrum.

A Healing Connection

If you’re experiencing pain in your hip, upper thigh, or groin area, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Visit Premier Orthopaedics for evaluation, pain relief and treatment.

2908 Whitehall Rd, E. Norriton PA 19403


Dennis McHugh, D.O.

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