Is Hip Replacement Surgery Right For You? - UPMC

Is Hip Replacement Surgery Right For You?

Should You Get Hip Replacement Surgery?

When you’re experiencing stiffness in your hip, it can be difficult to stand up out of a chair, walk short distances, or go upstairs. Total joint replacement helps people regain a quality of life that gets lost with years of pain and limitation caused by joint damage. And hip replacement surgery is one of the most commonly performed joint replacement operations.

When Do You Need Hip Replacement Surgery?

Osteoarthritis is the primary cause of joint damage and pain that leads to hip replacement surgery. The hip is called a “ball and socket” joint; the upper end of the thighbone (the femoral head) is the ball, which fits into a part of the pelvic bone called the acetabulum (the socket).

Cartilage covers the ball and the socket, allowing your hip to rotate inside. When you have arthritis, the cartilage starts to break down and the bones rub together. This causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. You may even experience pain deep in your groin or knees.

Osteoarthritis often develops with age, but it can also develop over time from a joint injury. For many people, medications, exercises, cortisone shots, and other noninvasive measures are enough to manage pain. Your physician will always try nonsurgical interventions before recommending surgery.

You may reach a point, however, where you need hip replacement surgery. During surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon removes the damaged tissue and replaces the femoral head and the socket with prosthetic parts.

Some signs that it’s time to talk to your physician about hip replacement surgery include:

  • Pain that isn’t controlled by medications
  • Pain and stiffness that stops you from doing daily activities
  • Significant damage to the joint or advanced arthritis
  • Avascular necrosis, or an injury that cuts off blood supply to the femoral head, leading to arthritis

In addition to arthritis, some hip fractures can also necessitate replacement if the damage can’t be repaired any other way.

Should You Have Hip Replacement Surgery?

Having major surgery is a scary prospect. But hip replacement surgery has come a long way over the years, with longer-lasting materials, less-invasive surgical techniques, and faster recovery times.

People of all ages who are healthy enough to undergo surgery may be candidates for the operation; the decision is based primarily on disability. To decide if you should have hip replacement surgery, start with an open conversation with your physician. Be sure to cover:

  • Risks and benefits of surgery
  • Surgical techniques and recovery time
  • Outcomes for someone your age and in your health
  • Symptoms or treatment options if you don’t have surgery

The younger and more active you are, the more wear your joints will experience. Younger people may need revision surgery at some point in their lives. Thankfully, even revision surgery is safe and allows you to go on with your daily activities.

For more information on joint replacement options, make an appointment to see one of our consultant orthopaedic surgeons at UPMC Whitfield, UPMC Kildare, or UPMC Aut Even.

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