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What is Total Hip Replacement?


Hip pain can be a common occurrence at any age, from the elderly to the youthful, sedentary to physically fit. That is because there are numerous reasons why your hip may be in pain, anywhere from arthritis to taking a hit on the football field. But if you are experiencing persistent pain over a long period of time, you may need surgery to correct the issue.

Total hip replacement surgery is a technique that has become widespread in more recent years to replace hip joints that have been damaged by injury or arthritis. This article will go over what total hip replacement is and entails and how it can be a source of relief for people living with hip pain on a daily basis.

Surgical Procedure: What to Expect

Total hip replacement surgery, also called total hip arthroplasty, is where the damaged bone and cartilage are removed and replaced with prosthetics. 

  • At the start of the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon will make an incision and remove the injured femoral head and any damaged tissue, leaving the healthy tissues and bone intact. 
  • The femoral head is replaced with a reinforced surgical-grade stem that is placed into the hollow center of the femur. The femoral stem can either be adhered or “press-fit” into the bone.
  • A metal or ceramic ball is placed on the upper part of the femoral stem, which replaces the damaged femoral head. 
  • The damaged cartilage surface of the socket, also called acetabulum, is then removed and replaced with a metal socket with screws or sometimes surgical “cement.”  
  • A spacer made of ceramic, metal or plastic is inserted between the new ball and the socket that makes a smooth gliding surface. 

Total hip replacement surgery typically takes about 2 hours to complete, but may take more or less time, depending on the type of replacement procedure the orthopedist is performing. 

How to Know If You Need Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Some of the most common ailments that qualify for total hip replacement are:

  • Osteoarthritis, as it is a disease that affects the smooth covering on the ends of the bone that typically allow the joints to move without restriction.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes inflammation in the joints that then begins to cause damage to the joint surfaces. 
  • Osteonecrosis, which is a loss or noticeable decrease in blood supply to the ball portion of the hip joint, which can cause the hip tissue to deteriorate completely.
  • Hip pain that persists despite pain medication.
  • Hip pain that worsens with walking, even when using a walker or cane. 
  • Hip pain that affects your sleep. 
  • Hip pain that makes it hard to sit up.

Candidates for the Surgery

There is no determinate age for a total hip replacement, as they have been performed successfully at all ages, but the median age is around 50-80 years old. The orthopedic surgeon will evaluate by individual, not age, as teenagers with juvenile arthritis have needed to undergo surgery just the same as elderly patients with degenerative arthritis. 

Differences Between Total Hip Replacement and Partial Hip Replacement 

Total hip replacement surgery corrects deterioration, injury, damage or malfunction in both the femoral head and the acetabulum. Partial hip replacement typically treats femoral neck fractures that require replacement of the femoral head alone.

So, while a total hip replacement surgery can correct an issue with both the femoral head and the acetabulum, a partial hip replacement only addresses issues with the femoral head, when the acetabulum is still healthy and does not need replacement.

Advantages to Getting Total Hip Surgery

A total hip replacement has been shown to offer a dramatic reduction in pain, with almost all patients getting complete, or mostly complete relief from arthritic hip pain. Increased mobility is also a huge benefit of the surgery. A hip replacement should allow you to get back to walking without restraint as well.


Physical therapy typically begins in the hospital after the surgery and many patients continue outpatient therapy up to 3 times a week for 6 to 8 weeks. Hip stretching and exercises are encouraged even after physical therapy ends. The patient should be able to resume most normal light activities within 3 to 6 weeks following surgery. Some discomfort with those activities and at night is common for the first couple of weeks, but is normal, and improves over that period.

Don’t Suffer With Hip Pain Anymore

If you’ve been dealing with hip pain, it’s important to consult with an orthopedic specialist that can help determine what the best course of treatment is.

Treating everything from fractures and traumatic injuries to joint replacement and sports injuries, Thunder Basin Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine gives individualized treatment using a variety of techniques to operate with less damage to the body.

Looking for the skilled staff and top surgeons to get you back up and enjoying all your favorite activities? Contact Thunder Basin Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to schedule an appointment today.