What is a Hip Replacement?
A hip replacement is the removal of all of part of the hip joint and insertion of an artificial ball or an artificial ball and socket. The diseased bone and joint surfaces are replaced with new or prosthetic parts.
The new parts are called components or implants. They are called implants because they are inserted or implanted in a patient’s body.
A hip replacement may be partial or total. In a total hip replacement, both the ball of the hip joint (femoral head) and the hip joint socket (acetabulum) are removed and replaced. In a partial replacement, only the femur is replaced and the socket is left intact.
In the 40 years since hip replacements were first performed, millions of people around the world have experienced relief from disabling hip disease. They have been able to walk and to resume normal function pain free. Total hip replacement has been considered a modern medical miracle.
Why Should I Have a Hip Replacement?
The main reason to have a hip replacement is relief of pain. When your hip joint is damaged or diseased it can be severely painful. Along with the pain, you can lose motion in your hip and have difficulty walking. It becomes harder to perform your routine activities. In short, your diseased or damaged hip interferes with the quality of your day-to-day life.
A painful hip can affect other parts of your body. You may develop back pain as you try to compensate for loss of motion in your hip. You may feel pain in your knee or in your opposite leg as you try to relieve pressure on your bad side. If you mobility is limited, you may gain weight because you are unable to exercise.
Hip replacement can relieve pain and improve the strength and motion in your hip. In some cases the results are dramatic. Many patients note that even a day or two after the procedure they have pain in their incision, but the joint pain they had before surgery is largely gone.
For most people, hip replacement surgery is elective. It is done for conditions such as osteoarthritis, which are not life threatening but affect your life in other ways. It is a procedure that is planned and scheduled ahead of time. It is not something you have to do, but is something you choose to do. Unlike an appendectomy, it is not an emergency procedure. The decision to have a hip replacement is made after consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon, but ultimately, the decision is yours.
For a few patients, hip replacement has to be done on an urgent basis. If a hip is broken (fractured), surgery should be done as soon as possible to relive pain and allow the patient to get out of bed. Hip replacement is the treatment of choice for some fractures. Bone tumours in the hip also require urgent treatment because the tumour will continue to grow and cause further damage to the bone.
There is more to hip replacement than just the surgical procedure. There is preoperative planning, testing, and medical evaluation. After surgery there is time in the hospital, therapy and rehabilitation. And of course life is different with an artificial joint in your body.
As you consider surgery, take time to learn about your hip, what treatment is available and why you would be a candidate for hip replacement.
When were the first total hip replacement done? How many are done each year?
Hip replacement surgery has been a work in progress fore more than 80 years.