As an orthopedic surgeon, I see many patients with hip pain. Hip pain caused by arthritis can be especially debilitating. It can manifest as groin pain, thigh pain and stiffness in the hip. Patients can have difficulty performing simple tasks such as putting on socks and shoes, climbing stairs and getting into a car. Understanding where the pain is coming from is the first step in the diagnosis and can lead to the most appropriate treatment options.
The hip is a ball and socket joint that normally rotates smoothly without pain. When the ball or socket of the hip joint becomes damaged either from arthritis or injury, that smooth surface can become uneven and painful. There are several early treatment options for conservative pain relief. When those non-surgical options fail, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend a total hip replacement.
A total hip procedure is surgery that removes the damaged portion of the ball and socket and replaces it with a new metal or ceramic ball and an artificial socket. The goal of a total hip is pain relief. For some patients, depending on the severity of their damaged hip, that pain relief can be immediate.
After a full recovery, which includes physical therapy, most people get back to doing the things they enjoy. Quality of life after hip replacement is dramatically improved in most cases. Patients can go from not being able to get out of chair without pain, to walking miles without discomfort. And, most people are returning to work in three months, if not sooner, in some cases.
There may be some movement restrictions after hip replacement. You will have to discuss any restrictions with your doctor. It is usually recommended that you don’t run after a total hip. The impact of running is too harsh for a hip replacement. However, hiking, biking, swimming, walking, and golfing are all good exercises afterwards. Some surgeons may even allow doubles tennis or backyard basketball.
There are several different surgical approaches to the hip joint. One approach that is taking more favor is the direct anterior approach to the hip. In this approach, there is no muscle that is cut off the bone, so the rehabilitation tends to be a little quicker when used in the right patient. In addition, the typical restrictions on motion, such as not bending past 90 degrees at the hip, tend to be less with this approach, allowing you to do more things sooner. It is worth discussing different approaches with your surgeon to find the right approach for you.
We used to tell our patients that total hips typically last about 15 years before they wear out and need replaced again. With newer types of bearing surfaces, we believe today’s hips will last even longer. People expect a certain quality of life today, and we can give that to them with a hip replacement, if indicated, and recommended by an orthopedic surgeon.Ian Gradisar, M.D. Orthopedic Surgeon Specialty: Total Joint Replacement Surgery Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center Akron, Ohio