You Don’t Have To Live With Hip Pain


Hip replacement surgery—initially performed in 1960—is identified as “one of the most successful operations in all of medicine” in patient literature from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.  And, generally speaking, there are no absolute age or weight restrictions on candidates for surgery.  Patient pain and level of disability are the primary considerations when a recommendation for hip surgery is made.
Mid State Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center doctors “grew up” with thorough training in hip replacement techniques, and as procedures and technology change their skills remain honed through regular continuing education.
In fact, Mid State Orthopaedic has for several years been ranked by independent health care evaluators as one of the top performing hip replacement practices in Louisiana and the nation as measured by overall results.
The hip is one of the largest and most used joints in the body.  It’s a ball-and-socket joint with the socket formed by part of the pelvis bone and the ball coming from the upper end of the femur (thighbone).  Articular cartilage, a smooth tissue that buffers the ends of the bones, allows these rotating parts to be flexible.  There’s also a thin membrane that surrounds the joint and produces a lubricating fluid to nearly eliminate friction during hip movement.  Ligaments provide stability to the joint and hold the ball to the socket.
When something goes wrong in the hip, arthritis is most often the culprit, bringing chronic pain and potential disability.  The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis.  In layman’s language it’s caused by “wear and tear” as the cushioning cartilage erodes and the bones rub against each other, causing pain and stiffness.  Osteoarthritis usually occurs in people over the age of 50 or in families with a history of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that causes the hip membrane to inflame and thicken.  This can damage cartilage and bring pain and stiffness.  Post-traumatic arthritis, caused by damage to cartilage during a serious hip injury or fracture, also can lead to discomfort and reduced mobility.
A Mid State Orthopaedic surgeon who replaces a hip (also called total hip arthroplasty) will do so in a four-part sequence.  First, the worn femoral head is removed and replaced by a metal stem which is fitted into the hollow center of the femur.  Next, a metal or ceramic ball, which serves as a new “femoral head,” is attached to the stem.  Then, the damaged cartilage surface of the socket is replaced with a metal socket.  Finally, a plastic, or metal spacer is inserted between the new ball and socket to form a smooth surface for unimpeded movement.
Patients are usually admitted to the hospital the day of surgery, and most patients are able to go home on the second or third day after their surgery.  A few patients benefit from spending some additional days in a special rehabilitation unit, which is determined by the surgeon and health insurance options. 
It is vital that patients commit themselves to physical rehabilitation, which begins under the direction of a licensed physical therapist a few days following surgery.  Most patients are able to walk with crutches or a walker soon after surgery (you will most likely be helped to your feet the following day), but there will be several days when assistance is needed for bathing, cooking, shopping and other routine activities.
Most people who undergo hip replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction in hip pain and significantly increased function in daily living.  The design of artificial hip joints has improved greatly over time, and it’s realistic to expect many years of use from the new joint.  However, a large majority of doctors advise against high-impact activities (running, jogging, jumping and others), which may shorten the life of the joint.  Excessive weight also can contribute to premature wearing of the artificial joint.
Realistic activities after hip replacement include unlimited walking, swimming, biking, dancing, golf, hiking and other low-impact sports.
If you have questions about hip replacement, Mid State Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center doctors and nurses are excellent resources for patient education, and they will provide the information necessary for the patient, family and medical staff to make a decision about this lifestyle-changing surgery.
Remember, you don’t have to live with hip pain.