Hip Replacement Surgery

More than 234,000 artificial hip replacement surgeries are performed yearly. Hip replacement may become necessary if activities such as walking, sitting, or even resting become painful.

Hip replacement, also called arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a damaged hip with a prosthesis (an artificial joint). This surgery may be considered following a hip fracture (breaking of the bone) or for someone who has severe arthritis.

The goal of hip replacement surgery is to replace the parts of the hip joint that have been damaged and to relieve hip pain that cannot be controlled by other treatments.

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Woman recovering from hip surgeryWho might be a candidate for hip replacement?

The most common condition that results in the need for hip replacement surgery is arthritis. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative, joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults, causes the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the hips.

Rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation of the synovial membrane and results in excessive synovial fluid, can lead to pain and stiffness. Traumatic arthritis, arthritis due to injury, can cause damage to the articular cartilage of the hip.

Persons with severe degenerative joint disease may be unable to do normal activities that involve bending at the hip, such as walking or sitting, because they are painful.

 Also, hip replacement is one method of treating a hip fracture. A fracture is a traumatic event that may result from a fall. Pain from a fracture is severe and walking or even moving the leg is difficult. Other conditions that may cause hip joint degeneration and require hip replacement include infections and hip deformities.

The decision to replace the painful hip with an artificial one is a decision made by the patient and physician. Other alternative treatments may first be used, including: 

  • anti-inflammatory medications
  • pain medications
  • limiting painful activities
  • assistive devices for walking (such as a cane)
  • physical therapy