Hip Replacement 101: What Are Your Options?

December 28, 2021
Hip Replacement 101: What Are Your Options?

Thinking about hip replacement? Here are some things you need to know.

Are the pain and stiffness in your hip making it hard to walk? Is your daily life impacted by your limited mobility? If so, it may be time to consider a hip replacement.

There are numerous reasons people need hip replacement surgery. Most result from the development of osteoarthritis in the hip, which occurs when bones in the joint rub together after cartilage breaks down. Fractures, injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs and bone tumors are other possible reasons you may need surgery.

When hip pain is uncontrollable and everyday activities are limited by stiffness and reduced range of motion, your first step should be to visit a doctor. A thorough exam and usually imaging studies are needed to confirm that the hip joint is indeed the cause of your pain. Not all hip pain is due to a hip problem – for example, sciatica from your back and vascular problems can present as hip pain. Once you have ruled out other causes of hip pain, and tried more conservative treatments for your pain and stiffness, it may be time to consider hip replacement surgery as a viable option.

Explore your hip replacement options: 

  • Total hip replacement: The damaged joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic (artificial) joint made of ceramic, metal or plastic. This is the most common type of hip surgery but should be a last resort option after more conservative treatments are tried. 
  • Partial hip replacement: Only the femoral head, the ball that rotates inside the joint socket, is replaced. This procedure is routinely used for hip fractures. Patients who do not have arthritis in the hip and have healthy cartilage often are considered good candidates for this procedure. 
  • Hip resurfacing: This is an alternative to hip replacement for young and active patients. Instead of removing the femoral head and replacing it with an artificial joint, the femoral head is reshaped and then fitted with a metal covering that fits in the joint socket. 
  • Minimally invasive hip surgery: Ask your doctor whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive hip replacement surgery, in which smaller incisions are used. Potential benefits include a lower risk of muscle and tendon damage, less blood loss and speedier healing. 

Choosing to undergo hip replacement surgery is a big decision. It is best to discuss your options with an orthopedic surgeon you trust. This will help you weigh the pros and cons of surgery, whether now is the right time for surgery and which procedure is the best option so you can enjoy a healthy and active future.

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Date Last Reviewed: November 21, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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