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Total Hip Replacement/Hip Joint Replacement Surgery

As we age, wear and tear due to repetitive use, excess weight or repeated injury can cause the cartilage in the hip to degenerate, eventually leading to pain and disability. Typically, at its earliest stages, patients try to tough it out or use medication such as anti-inflammatories or even narcotics to relieve the pain. This may be effective at first, but as the joint continues to degenerate, pain medication becomes less and less effective or dosages have to be increased – neither of which are optimal.

Fortunately, technique and technology for hip replacements has improved in the past decades to a degree where it is very successful in the vast majority of patients, no matter what their age, and offers immediate relief from joint pain that may have plagued them for years.

Diagnosing Degenerative Hip Disease

Typically, medical history and an evaluation from an experienced orthopedic surgeon such as Dr. Manning is sufficient to make a preliminary diagnosis of hip degeneration. This can be confirmed using various diagnostic imaging tools including x-ray and MRI. Once the degeneration is confirmed and diagnosed, we need to understand if a partial or total hip replacement is necessary. A partial hip replacement is where the head of the femur is replaced with a metal prosthesis. The socket joint, if relatively intact, is left in its natural state. A total joint replacement replaces both the ball and socket with metal and plastic components.

How Total Hip Joint Replacement Works

The hip joint is accessed in one of two approaches: posterior (from the rear) or anterior (from the front). Each approach has its benefits and risks. The anterior approach, for example, requires less trauma to the muscle and nerve structures, but requires additional complexity in technique. Regardless of the approach used, the cartilage in the damaged socket is shaved away and the socket is refinished. A metal replacement socket with plastic lining is affixed to mimic the smoothness of the cartilage prior to this degeneration. The head of the femur is cut, and a metal ball is attached in its place. The new ball and socket joint works almost identically to the natural joint and typically offers patients exceptional range of motion, normal physical ability and a pain-free life. On occasion, the new joint may even work more efficiently than the natural joint.

How Long Do Hip Replacements Last?

With advances in hip replacement surgery, patients can expect their hip replacement to last upwards of 15 or even 20 years. A large part of the longevity of the joint relies on the patient taking good care of their artificial joint by minimizing high impact activities, maintaining a normal weight, eating a healthy diet, keeping vitamin and nutrient deficiencies at bay and generally practicing good health.

What Is The Prognosis for a Hip Replacement?

Total hip joint replacement is one of the most successful and effective surgical procedures of any kind. Many patients come into surgery unable to walk and certainly unable to perform activities that they wish they could. Almost immediately, that disability is eliminated, and although patients have to contend with surgical pain, it improves very quickly in the days and weeks after surgery. Within a few weeks after the procedure, they are often performing activities that they haven’t been able to in years; and doing so without pain.

To learn more about a total hip replacement, please contact Dr. Manning to schedule a consultation.

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