Published on September 20, 2019

Get Hip to a New Hip

Grandparents walking with their grandchildren.

When you're living with a painful hip, there's a good chance you're not really living. It may be hard to stand, walk or even bend over to tie your shoes. The more challenging these simple tasks become, the harder it may be to do activities you enjoy.

If this describes your life, then it may be time to learn about hip replacement surgery.

Why does it hurt?

Most painful hips are caused by arthritis, which damages the bone and cartilage in the hip. But other conditions, such as a fracture, tumor or poor blood supply to the bone, may also be to blame. 

To help hurting hips, doctors typically first recommend things like medications, exercise or physical therapy. But if those treatments don't ease the pain, then surgery is a safe and effective option.

Most people who have had a hip replaced report that the surgery made them feel better and improved their quality of life.

"One of the best surgeries in regard to patient satisfaction and improvement is total hip replacement," says Michael Woodbury, DO, an orthopedic surgeon with Faith Regional Health Services. "Over 90% of people who have a total hip replacement are very satisfied that they had the procedure done."

How does hip surgery help?

Hip replacement surgery is performed with either regional or general anesthesia. It may involve a traditional open procedure or minimally invasive techniques, both available at Faith Regional.

The open procedure usually involves a 6-to 8-inch incision on the side of the hip. Minimally invasive procedures use smaller incisions and specialized tools. 

Even though there are some advantages to minimally invasive hip replacements - smaller incisions typically translate into a shorter recovery time, for example - these surgeries tend to work best in young, healthy people who aren't overweight.

In both an open and minimally invasive procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged bone tissue and cartilage from the hip joint. He or she then replaces the head of the femur (the thigh bone) and the acetabulum - the socket in the pelvis where the femur sits - with metal or ceramic parts. 

The surgeon decides which material is best to use and whether the parts will be cemented in or left so that bone can grow in and around them.

Hip replacement surgery typically lasts an hour or two. And most people remain in the hospital for only a day or two.

Medication can help with the pain after surgery and during recovery, which may take three to six months. Physical therapy to help regain strength is often recommended. 

Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; National Institutes of Health; UpToDate