What is Total Hip Replacement?

September 8, 2020 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Hip replacement surgery, also called hip arthroplasty, is a procedure where the damaged cartilage and bone of the hip is removed and replaced with prosthetic components to restore the function of the hip. The goal is to relieve the pain of arthritis and makes it possible to perform daily activities more easily.

Primary types of arthritis of the hip

The most common cause of chronic hip pain is arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis are the most common forms of this disease.

  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis, is a degenerative type of arthritis that occurs most often in people 50 years of age and older. It can occur in any joint in the body, but most often develops in weight-bearing joints such as the hip or knee. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears away over time. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed and rough, and the protective joint space between the bones decreases, which can result in bone rubbing on bone and can produce bone spurs. Osteoarthritis develops slowly, and the pain increases overtime.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. It can affect the same joint on both sides of the body. The synovial membrane that lines the hip joint begins to swell, which results in pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and damages the cartilage and ligaments while softening the bone.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis: A form of arthritis that develops after an injury to the hip. These injuries can cause instability and additional wear of the hip joint that over time can lead to arthritis.
  • Osteonecrosis: An injury to the hip, such as a dislocation or fracture, may limit the blood supply to the femoral head. This is called osteonecrosis (also sometimes referred to as “avascular necrosis”). The lack of blood may cause the surface of the bone to collapse, and arthritis will result. Some diseases can also cause osteonecrosis.

Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Total hip replacement surgery involves removing the diseased portion of the hip joint. An artificial hip, known as a prosthesis, replaces it. There are four pieces in a new hip implant: a stem which fits into the thigh bone, a ball on the end of the stem, a shell that fits into the pelvis and a liner that snaps into the shell.

How long does it take to recover from a total hip replacement?

Following a hip replacement, early return to function is encouraged. Resumption of normal activities after joint replacement is highly dependent on the individual patient. You should go at your own speed depending on how you feel. General guidelines suggest around three weeks after surgery; most patients are driving a car as long as the patient has stopped all pain medication. Many patients get back to activities such as walking for exercise, swimming, golf, driving, hiking, biking, dancing, and other low-impact sports by six weeks after surgery even though they still have some discomfort, increased warmth and increased swelling.

Overall, total hip replacement surgery is one of the most effective procedures offered to patients today. It is reliable and durable and allows you to return to a better quality of life by decreasing your pain and improving your function. Many hip implants function well for more than 15 years even in young and active patients.


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