Comprised of the femur (thighbone) and pelvis (the basin of bones between the leg bones and spine), your hip joint features a socket that interlocks with a ball to direct movement, which is eased by surrounding lubricating tissue. When your hip joint becomes damaged due to arthritis (in several potential forms, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis), childhood hip disease, and other conditions, sufferers can experience pain from bone-on-bone friction, stiffened movements, reduced blood flow, or other issues. These conditions reflect the gradual wearing-down of or inflammation of the cartilage that protects your hip bone or the caving in of the bone’s surface, among other causes. When one or more of these events occur, total hip replacement surgery is frequently performed.

During the procedure, an incision is made on the back or side of your hip and artificial instruments are substituted for damaged bone and cartilage within the hip, which restores hip functionality and increases durability. Affected areas such as the femoral head and cartilage surface of your hip are extracted and replaced with a prosthetic stem with a metallic or ceramic ball that fits into the center of the femur (and is affixed using cement or press fitting) and an artificial spacer and socket (held in place by cement or screws). The entire process of inserting the artificial ball, stem and socket into the affected areas and placing the prosthetic between the other instruments ensures sliding and effective function of the new hip. The total hip replacement procedure generally takes a few hours.

Did You Know? The first hip replacement was performed in 1960. With surgical and technological advances in the years since, today over 300,000 total hip replacements are performed annually in the U.S.

Your provider will evaluate your candidacy for hip surgery, including whether you meet certain conditions such as age considerations (although no age limitations currently exist), a BMI under 40 (or the ability to lose sufficient weight before surgery) and sufficient blood storage in the event that a blood transfusion is needed. Following a short post-surgical hospital stay for observation, most patients will undergo a designated physical therapy, diet and activity program in order to facilitate a faster recovery. Many patients can engage in normal activities (with the type and degree of function varying for each person) within three to six weeks after surgery, with total recovery occurring within six or more months following the hip replacement.

When undergoing a total hip replacement, it’s important to remember  that the durability and longevity of your prosthetic hip should be considered before undertaking certain high-stress activities, such as jumping, running and certain sports or other intense occupational and everyday tasks. Most patients are limited to low-impact exercise in order to avoid wearing out their artificial joint and to help maintain their overall health.