Do I Need a Hip Replacement? Here are the Signs


Total hip arthroplasty, which is another name for hip replacement surgery, might be an option if hip pain is getting in the way of daily life and non-surgical treatments haven’t worked or aren’t working anymore. Most people need a hip replacement because of damage caused by arthritis.

Below are some of the many reasons you may need a hip replacement:

  • Hip painThis pain can be in your groin or on the outside of your hip, but it will mostly be on the back of your lower leg. When walking, jogging, or running, you will feel the pain the most
  • Limited range of motion – A hip injury or disorder can make the joint stiff, reducing your range of motion and making it hard or painful to bend your hip. This includes having trouble bending over, putting on clothes, sitting or standing up on your own, and climbing up the stairs
  • Limping – Limping can be one of the most harmful signs of a hip disorder or injury as a whole. Not only is it a sign of hip problems, but limping too much or for too long can cause other problems, like falling down often, feeling unbalanced, or having numbness in the hands or legs
  • Swelling or tenderness in the hip – A swollen hip is a sign of damage inside the body, just like a bump or a bruise. This could be caused by more friction in the joint, fluid buildup from bursitis or another mass, or inflammation from arthritis or another condition
  • A feeling of instability – Whether it’s from a bad accident or years of wear and tear, hip instability makes it hard to do things like stand up, walk, or work out. Even though instability may not hurt, it is a serious sign that something is wrong with the joint

Anatomy of the Hip 

The hip is one of the biggest joints in the body and is a joint with a ball and a socket. The acetabulum, which is part of the pelvis bone, makes the hole, and the ball is the top of the femur, or thighbone, which is called the femoral head. The ends of the bones in the ball and socket are cushioned by a smooth tissue called articular cartilage, which makes it easy for the bones to move.

Around the hip joint is a thin piece of tissue called the synovial membrane. When the hip is healthy, this membrane makes a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage and keeps almost all friction from happening when the hip moves. Ligaments, which are part of the hip capsule, connect the ball to the socket and keep the joint stable.

Each of these many components and more, is what makes up the hip joint and how it operates. When there is an issue with one or more of these structures, the hip may not be able to function correctly or without pain. 

What Happens During Hip Replacement Surgery?

The surgery usually takes between 1 and 2 hours. Your orthopedic surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and bone and then put in new metal, plastic, or ceramic implants to realign and fix your hip.

In a total hip replacement, also called a total hip arthroplasty, the damaged bone and cartilage are taken out and replaced with artificial parts.

  • The damaged femoral head is taken off and a metal stem is put into the hollow center of the femur to take its place. The femoral stem can be cemented or “press fit” into the bone
  • On the top of the stem, a metal or ceramic ball is placed. The damaged femoral head was taken off and replaced with this ball
  • The damaged cartilage on the socket is taken off and a metal socket is put in its place. The socket is sometimes held in place with screws or glue
  • Between the new ball and the socket, a plastic, ceramic, or metal spacer is put in to make a smooth surface for the ball to move on

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Hip Replacement?

How well you take care of yourself at home during the first few weeks after surgery will have a big impact on how well your recovery goes. There are many factors that play a role in your recovery including pain management, wound care, diet and activity. 

  • Pain management – Medications are often given after surgery to help with pain for a short time. There are many kinds of painkillers, such as opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and local anesthetics, that can help manage pain. Your doctor may give you a mix of these medicines to help relieve pain and cut down on the amount of opioids you need
  • Wound care – You may have stitches, staples, or a suture running along or under your wound. About 2 weeks after surgery, the stitches or staples will be taken out. Don’t get the wound wet until it has healed and dried completely. You can keep putting a bandage on the wound to keep it from getting irritated by your clothes or support stockings
  • Diet – After surgery, a lot of people lose their appetite for a few weeks. It is important to have a balanced diet, often with an iron supplement, to help tissues heal and restore muscle strength. Make sure to drink a lot of water
  • Activity – Exercise is an important part of taking care of yourself at home, especially in the first few weeks after surgery. After surgery, you should be able to do most of your normal light daily tasks again in 3 to 6 weeks. For a few weeks, it’s common to feel some pain when moving around and at night.

Are you ready to get back to a pain-free lifestyle? Here at CONA, we are ready to help you with your hip replacement. To request an appointment with one of our CONA specialists, click here or call (864) 582-6396.

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