Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure that involves removing damaged hip joint surfaces and replacing them with an artificial implant. The goal of this type of surgery is to relieve hip pain and improve hip function. Hip pain sufferers can find that their quality of life greatly suffers as a result of pain and mobility problems, affecting relationships, jobs and hobbies.
While total hip replacement surgery is seen as a last-resort treatment for many forms of hip injury and hip conditions, surgeons do recommend it when patients meet certain criteria. In these situations, it represents the best way to achieve lasting relief for joint damage. At OJRCA we believe in helping patients make informed treatment decisions that help them get back to the healthy and active lifestyle they’ve been missing.
As you read over this helpful guide to the reasons why surgeons recommend total hip replacement, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or if you’d like to learn more about our minimally invasive, outpatient treatment options.
1. You Have a Condition that Causes Severe Joint Damage
Total hip replacement surgery is typically only performed to treat a few specific conditions of the hip joint. While there are many causes of hip pain, including muscle strains, ligament sprains, bursitis and even fractures, many of these conditions do heal on their own. I
Total hip replacements are typically recommended for cases where there is severe joint damage caused by one of the following conditions:
- Osteoarthritis of the hip — This is the most common form of arthritis and is caused by age-related degeneration. Over time, worn out cartilage causes increased bone on bone cartilage that leads to hip joint damage.
- Rheumatoid arthritis of the hip — This is an autoimmune disease that causes healthy joint tissue to become attacked by its own immune system.
- Post-traumatic arthritis of the hip — In this form of arthritis, joint damage occurs due to an injury not healing properly or changing the way the hip functions, which can speed up natural joint degeneration.
Common symptoms of these conditions include, aches, pains and stiffness. While these symptoms can often be very mild, joint diseases such as hip arthritis are progressive in nature and become worse over time.
2. Hip Joint Pain Is Severely Affecting Quality of Life
Total hip replacement surgery is typically an elective procedure and is performed for patients who are experiencing severe pain. Hip pain can affect nearly any activity, from walking, running, and climbing stairs to even rising from a chair. Reduced hip function can hurt productivity at work or the ability to get things done around the house. It can also negatively affect sleep and mental health, which can further erode a person’s ability to successfully manage pain.
Doctors will generally recommend taking steps to improve hip function and stay active, such as getting regular exercise, but total hip replacement surgery can become an option in cases where it becomes difficult or even impossible to take these steps.
3. Conservative Treatment Options Have Been Thoroughly Explored
Upon diagnosis of severe joint damage, the first step will typically be to recommend a course of conservative treatment options. While most of the underlying causes, including degenerative hip injury and hip arthritis, are not curable or reversible, often it is possible to successfully manage pain and improve range of motion with nonsurgical therapies, including:
- Periods of rest to reduce stress on the hip
- Hot and/or cold compression therapy to relieve inflammation and improve blood flow
- Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve symptoms
- Undergoing physical therapy to strengthen the and mobilize the hip joint
- Receiving anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation on a medium term basis
Physicians will typically recommend attempting these and other measures for a period of weeks or months before seriously considering surgery. However, it is important for joint damage not to progress too far or quality of life not decline too much.
4. Lifestyle Changes Have Been Attempted Without Bringing Relief
Another important aspect of hip pain treatment to explore before seriously considering total hip replacement surgery is making any appropriate lifestyle changes that can help promote hip health. Our hip joints must withstand serious stress and strain as we go through our day. Certain factors, such as carrying extra weight, can increase that stress and compound the forces that lead to joint damage.
Upon diagnosing a condition that causes joint damage, doctors will usually recommend appropriate measures that can help slow down the progression of hip joint damage, these include:
- Eating a nutrient-rich diet and limiting inflammatory foods such as processed sugars and saturated fats
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting regular exercise to improve cardiovascular health and build muscle
- Practicing good sleep habits to improve sleep quality
If patients have fully attempted these steps along with conservative treatments and pain is still affecting quality of life, doctors will typically recommend consulting with a surgeon to explore a surgical procedure such as total hip replacement.
5. You Are a Suitable Candidate for Total Hip Replacement Surgery
To determine if a patient is a suitable candidate, the surgeon and medical staff will perform a thorough consultation and evaluation that involves the following steps:
- Reviewing medical and treatment history
- A physical examination and checking of vitals
- A discussion of symptoms and how they are affecting activity levels
- Diagnostic testing, including new imagery if needed
If a patient is determined to be a suitable candidate for total hip replacement surgery, they can then begin to prepare for the procedure itself, and will receive a full pre- and postoperative checklist.
It is important to find a surgeon who believes in providing a personalized plan for each patient. He or she should always be there to answer any questions and take the time to explain your total hip replacement procedure. Patients should never feel rushed or pressured into undergoing this procedure.
Even in cases of a successful total hip replacement procedure, patients should still understand the commitment involved in the postoperative process. For example, physical therapy and healthy lifestyle choices should continue in the weeks and months after the procedure to ensure that hip function is restored. Following all postoperative instructions is also the best way to ensure a positive outcome and lower the risk of complications such as infection.
Reach Out to the Orthopedic Experts at OJRCA
If hip pain from arthritis is keeping you from being active and enjoying the quality of life that you deserve, it may be time to consider outpatient joint replacement surgery. At Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America, we’re committed to helping you reclaim your health and former activity levels. Please call us or reach out online to schedule an appointment at our Tampa, FL, clinic.