As we get older, we can start experiencing severe hip pain. Cartilage acts as a cushion and it’s found in between the ball and socket of the hip joint. In most cases of hip pain, this cartilage starts to break down, leading to osteoarthritis (where the hip bones rub together, causing pain). There are non-surgical ways of treating hip pain including medications and injections. If these ways don’t reduce hip pain and improve mobility, a total hip replacement may need to be considered. Recovery from a total hip replacement can take anywhere between 6 and 12 months.
What is a Hip Replacement?
A hip arthroplasty is more commonly known as a hip replacement. This type of hip surgery involves replacing the damaged hip joint with an artificial implant, which is made from metal and plastic. The hip contains the hip socket (acetabulum) and the head of the thigh bone (femur). During surgery, these parts are removed and replaced with metal and plastic artificial parts. Similar to a total knee replacement, the parts are then fixed to the bone with cement or coatings that encourage bone in-growth. Cementless hip replacements can also be offered, which allow the bone to grow into it. This is something that should be considered for younger patients. Most hip replacement surgeries are carried out on individuals between the ages of 55 and 80. With that being said, there are many reasons why an individual of any age may require a hip replacement. You can find out more about hip replacements with patient resource videos.
Common Reasons for a Hip Replacement
Apart from osteoarthritis, your GP or doctor may recommend a hip arthroplasty if you are experiencing severe pain, inflammation, stiffness or damage to your hip joint, caused by the following conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease
- Septic arthritis – joint infection
- Osteonecrosis – disrupted blood flow
- Hip fracture
- Bone dysplasias – abnormal bone development
- Avascular necrosis (blood flow failure)
What to Expect?
If the pain you are experiencing is regular throughout the day and night or it restricts the way you work or engage in social activities, we will need to examine the problem. We may consider other procedures before resorting to surgery, but if you are showing arthritis advancing rapidly during initial scans, hip replacement may be the best option.
Whilst the goal of a hip replacement is to relieve pain and to aid mobility, the replacement is not a normal hip and it won’t be as good as the original. For 90-95% of patients, it allows you to live nearly or completely pain-free for up to 10 years. The only restriction is that you won’t be able to return to strenuous active sports or heavy labour. After 10 years, you may need to consider hip revision surgery to replace the artificial hip and maintain a mobile life. This is due to the replacement loosening over time – 5-10% of patients require revision surgery after this amount of time. It should be noted that the risk complications of a second surgery are higher and won’t be as good as the first replacement.