In 2014, up to 2.5 million Americans were living with an artificial hip. Hip replacement surgery and physical rehabilitation are often recommended when a patient experiences chronic hip pain and no other pain management procedures work.
Here’s an in-depth guide to hip replacement surgery and why this surgery is sometimes the best alternative for patients with chronic hip pain.
What is a total hip replacement?
A total hip replacement, or total hip arthroplasty, is the removal of damaged hip cartilage and bone. The part of the hip that’s removed is replaced with prosthetic components.
During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the damaged femoral head of your hip and replace it with a metal stem. This stem is placed in the hollow center of your femur. A ceramic or metal ball is then placed in the upper part of the metal stem, thereby replacing the femoral head.
A metal socket also replaces damaged cartilage. A spacer made from metal, plastic, or ceramic is inserted between the socket and new ball to create a smooth surface.
After the procedure, physical rehabilitation at a physical therapy center is necessary to improve mobility and reduce pain. Your physical therapist will also show you physical therapy exercises to do at home.
Would I be a good candidate for hip replacement surgery?
Whether you’re a good candidate for total hip replacement surgery depends on your level of pain and disability. There aren’t any absolute weight or age restrictions.
The majority of patients who receive total hip replacement surgery are between the ages of 50 and 80, but younger patients may receive the surgery if an orthopaedic surgeon has determined it’s a good option.
Your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend total hip replacement surgery if you:
- Experience chronic hip pain throughout the day, night, and while resting
- Experience hip pain that limits bending, walking, and everyday activities
- Experience little relief from pain management such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, or walking supports such as a cane or crutch
- Experience stiffness in the hip that limits your mobility including your ability to move or lift your leg
Hip replacement surgery is often used as the last possible option. Advanced physical therapy has been known to reduce pain and improve mobility in those suffering from chronic pain.