What is a total hip replacement?

Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure that replaces the hip joint with artificial parts, called prostheses. Total hip replacement is one of the most successful orthopedic procedures performed today. For patients with hip pain due to a variety of conditions, total hip replacement can relieve pain, restore function, and improve quality of life. 

Total hip replacement is conducted in an operating room after you are given general or regional (epidural or spinal) anesthesia. To complete a hip replacement, your surgeon will:

  • Make an incision over the front or side of your hip, through the layers of tissue
  • Remove diseased and damaged bone and cartilage, leaving healthy bone intact
  • Implant the prosthetic socket into your pelvic bone, to replace the damaged socket
  • Replace the round ball on the top of your femur with the prosthetic ball, which is attached to a stem that fits inside your thighbone

artificial joint diagram

What causes the need for a total hip replacement?

The normal hip functions has a “ball-and-socket” joint. The femoral head (ball) articulates with the acetabulum (socket), allowing smooth range of motion in multiple planes. Any condition that affects either of these structures can lead to deterioration of the joint. This, in turn, can lead to damage, pain, and loss of function. The most common condition afflicting the hip in this way is osteoarthritis. Other conditions that may affect the hip negatively include inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, spondyloarthropathies, etc), developmental dysplasia, childhood hip disorders.

Artificial Joint Xray

What does physical therapy do after surgery?

Physical therapy will begin while you are still in the hospital in most circumstances and nowadays isn’t always required to do outpatient physical therapy. Walking is sometimes all the therapy you need! However, in some cases physical therapy will still be advised if you were in pain a long time before getting the replacement and have a lot of weakness and instability. Or if you are still having a lot pain, imbalances, or weakness after surgery as well. It can help to prevent you from falling!

Major precautions following surgery are to NOT cross your legs or bend your hip greater than 90 degrees, but should be addressed in detail with your surgeon.

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