Total Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement surgery is done to replace damaged or diseased bone in your hip with artificial parts.

Your hip joint is located between your pelvis and your thigh bone, or femur. It is a ball-and-socket joint. The head of your femur is shaped like a ball and fits into a socket on your pelvis. This socket is called your acetabulum. Your acetabulum is lined with a slick, flexible tissue called cartilage. Your femoral head also has a cap made of cartilage. This cartilage allows the bones to move easily.

Osteoarthritis causes your cartilage to wear down over time. When this happens, bony growths called bone spurs may form. This can cause pain and inflammation and limit the motion of your hip.

Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear. It can also be caused by past injuries. Weight-bearing joints, such as your hip, are more likely to get osteoarthritis.

You can also get rheumatoid arthritis, or R-A, in your hip. This kind of arthritis happens when the body's own cells attack the lining of your joints. The lining then becomes inflamed, painful, and swollen. 

Hip replacement surgery may be recommended when your arthritis keeps you from your daily activities or sleep. It may also be recommended if you have hip weakness or loss of motion because of arthritis. This is especially true if your arthritis hasn't improved with other treatments.

Hip replacements can also treat hip fractures and some bone tumors.

Before the Procedure

Your provider will explain what happens during hip replacement surgery. He or she will also talk with you about any risks or complications that may happen. This is the time to ask any questions you have. You'll be asked to sign a consent form that gives your health care provider permission to do the surgery. Read the form carefully and ask questions if anything is not clear.

Your provider will also give you instructions about how to prepare for your surgery. Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the day before your surgery.

Tell your health care provider about all of the medications and supplements you take, if you have any allergies, and if you're pregnant or might be pregnant. Ask your doctor ahead of time if there are any medications you should stop taking before your surgery.

Before going to the hospital, you should prepare your home. Make sure things you might need are within easy reach. Set up a location to rest. Remove throw rugs and other tripping hazards. Stock up on food and supplies. And, ask someone you trust to help you with tasks such as bathing, dressing, and laundry for a few weeks.

What to Expect

During hip replacement surgery, the surgeon makes a cut or incision in your upper thigh to reach your hip bones. The head and neck of your femur are removed. A stem is inserted into the shaft of your femur. A metal or ceramic ball is attached to the stem. The surgeon then removes the acetabulum and replaces it with a metal socket. A plastic or ceramic cup is inserted into the socket to help the joint move easily. Bone cement may be used to help hold the new parts in place.

Surgery will take a few hours. You can expect to stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery.

During your hospital stay, you'll get antibiotics to prevent infection and medication to ease your pain. You may also get medications to prevent blood clots.

After the Procedure

After your surgery, you'll work with a physical therapist to help you get back on your feet right away. You'll need to continue your rehabilitation for several weeks after your surgery.You may need crutches or a walker for a time.

Things to Remember

Total hip replacements are used to treat arthritis, fractures, and bone tumors.
During surgery, your hip socket and the head and neck of your femur are replaced with artificial parts.
Physical therapy is an important part of your recovery.

What We Have Learned

Total hip replacement surgery is often used to treat arthritis. True or False? The answer is true. It may also be recommended if you have hip weakness or loss of mobility because of arthritis.

You will need to lie still for several days after your surgery. True or False? The answer is false. After surgery, a physical therapist will help you get back on your feet right away.