Hip pain can be debilitating. Because your hips are part of your body’s core, they bear and move most of your weight while providing an astounding range of motion.
Osteoarthritis of the hip can occur from normal wear and tear of your joints over time. If you live with hip pain, there may come a time when conservative methods of treatment no longer help. For some, hip replacement surgery, or arthroplasty, can relieve hip pain and allow them to resume their favorite activities.
What Happens in Hip Replacement?
There are two main types of total hip replacement – traditional and minimally invasive surgeries.
Whether your orthopedic surgeon recommends one or the other will depend on several factors. In both procedures, the damaged portion of the hip is removed by the surgeon and replaced with an implant.
The hip operates as a ball-and-socket type joint. The top end of the femur (thighbone) – the “ball” part of the joint – is replaced with a more durable stainless steel or ceramic ball. The hip “socket” is made of cartilage, and the surface of the cartilage is replaced with a durable metal socket. Then the “ball” prosthesis at the top of the femur fits into the hip socket to restore smooth, pain-free functioning.
Traditional Hip Replacement
Hip replacement surgery requires a lot of skill and experience on the part of the orthopedic specialist, to assure the best outcome. It is a complex procedure, but traditional hip replacement is a well-established surgery that has helped many people regain pain-free movement. There are pros and cons to traditional hip replacement when compared with minimally invasive hip replacement.
In traditional hip replacement, a large incision (10 – 12 inches long) is made to the side of the hip and the whole joint is exposed. The surrounding soft tissue is separated to allow access and visibility of the hip joint. This large incision and disruption of muscles and other soft tissue results in a longer hospital stay and recovery period as well as increased postoperative pain than the minimally-invasive hip replacement alternative.
Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement
Both traditional and minimally invasive hip replacement involves removing the damaged hip and inserting a prosthesis. The implants do not differ, but the method of surgery does.
Minimally invasive hip replacement is relatively new. It involves smaller incisions and less disruption of soft tissue and muscle in the area. There have not been extensive studies on patient recovery and outcomes. However, the research available shows that recovery time is faster and involves less pain than traditional hip replacement.
During the procedure, a surgeon makes one or two small incisions:
· The single-incision procedure requires a 3- to 6-inch incision on the side of the hip, allowing access to the joint.
· In the double-incision procedure, one is about 3 inches and located over the groin area, while and one is about 2 inches and located in the buttock area. The cuts are close to the ball and socket areas.
Special instruments are needed to perform minimally invasive hip replacement. Because of reduced access and visibility, a surgeon’s expertise and level of experience strongly influences the outcome of the procedure.
Your surgeon will decide which procedure is best for you following a thorough exam and review of your medical history. Young, active patients who are not overweight are generally considered good candidates for minimally invasive hip replacement.
Of course, osteoporosis can complicate any hip replacement surgery.
If you have hip pain from degenerative osteoarthritis, contact the hip pain experts at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons will help you get moving again, without pain.