Has your orthopedic surgeon recommended that you undergo hip replacement surgery? If so, it is likely that you have been burdened with the pain and stiffness of arthritis of the hip and replacing your damaged hip would help you live a happier and more active life. Any time surgery is recommended to fix a medical problem, it is because your doctor realizes that the benefit of having surgery could outweigh any risks that might be associated with the procedure itself. In fact, this couldn’t be truer than with hip replacement surgery because this procedure is one of the most successful types of orthopedic surgeries performed today. The first hip replacement surgery was performed in the 1960s and today over 370,000 are performed annually in the United States. There are different techniques used to replace damaged hips and your surgeon will know which approach is best for your fullest recovery. So, let’s take a look at hip replacement surgery and see just how invasive a procedure it is or not.
Normal Hip Anatomy
The hip is one of the largest joints in your body, and it is known as a ball and socket joint. Do you have a faucet in your bathroom or kitchen that has a single handle that you can move in almost any direction to turn the water on and make it hot or cold? That simple household item is a ball and socket. Do you see all the different angles you can achieve manipulating that handle? That is how your hip joint works. Your long thigh bone has a ball at the top. That ball fits into a round cavity (socket) in your pelvis. As you move your leg in different directions, the ball of the thigh bone should be smoothly rotating inside the socket of your hip. However, when you have arthritis, the cartilage and bone inside the joint is worn and your natural lubrication is diminished, causing certain areas to rub or catch, resulting in stiffness and pain.
What is Replaced During Hip Replacement?
Because you’ll want your new hip to move freely without causing you pain, all the components of the “ball and socket” joint will need to be replaced. There are different types of artificial joints available for your orthopedic surgeon to use, but they all have two basic parts—the ball and stem to replace the ball at the top of our thigh bone, and the socket to replace the damaged part of your pelvis. These parts may be made of metal, plastic, ceramic, or a combination of these materials. These parts are typically placed so that your own bone will grow into them during the healing process, attaching naturally to the new hip components.
How is a Replacement Performed and How Invasive is the Procedures?
The specifics of what is to be done will be determined by your surgeon, based on everything that is unique to your hip. However, there are some things that are specific to all procedures, and there are a variety of different approaches to these surgeries. When your orthopedic surgeon replaces the hip, your existing damaged bone and cartilage of your joint will be removed. After you receive anesthesia and incisions are made, the ball at the top of your thigh bone will be removed since it is worn out, and the new ball of the artificial hip will be attached to the top of this same bone. Damaged cartilage from the inside surface of the socket part of your pelvis will be removed, the hip surface will be prepared, and then the new socket will be attached to the original socket of your pelvis. Finally, the new ball is inserted into the new socket and incisions will be closed.
The invasiveness of the procedure is often determined by the approach that your surgeon will determine best suits your needs. Preferred approaches are often considered minimally invasive because incisions are smaller, muscles and tendons are preserved, and recover time is often shorter. There is also a great deal of technology available to your surgeon to decrease the invasiveness of a hip replacement, using specialized instruments and techniques. With all that is available to you and your orthopedic surgeon, the hip replacements of your parents and grandparents have been replaced with much less invasive techniques, offering faster, easier, and successful recoveries.
If you are interested in learning more about hip replacement surgery, or if you have any other concerns about hip or other joint pain, our friendly team is here to help. To seek the expert advice of Dr. Brett Gilbert who will address your unique concerns, contact us today by calling us at (919) 788-8797 or you can request an appointment with Dr. Gilbert using our appointment request form, or you can self-schedule your appointment here.