The hip is among the body’s largest weight-bearing joints. The hip consists of three bones (ilium, ischium, and pubis), and it essentially serves as the junction where the thighbone (femur) joins the pelvis. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint consisting of two main parts—the femoral head (the ball-shaped piece of bone located at the top of the femur) and acetabulum (the concave surface of the pelvis into which the femoral head fits).
The hip is highly flexible, and such sheer flexibility gives it its range of motion. The hip allows for movements in three major axes: forward and backward (flexion and extension); sideward and inward (abduction and adduction); and internal and external rotation.
The hip joint is also a very strong joint: it is reinforced by a network of ligaments and heavy musculature. Nonetheless, even with its strength, it is not invulnerable to wear and tear or injury. The cartilage that protects the hip can wear away, either due to aging or arthritis. As the cartilage wears away, so does the protective joint space between the bones. When there is no more cartilage left, the bones will rub against each other.
For bone-on-bone hip pain, orthopedic surgeons typically recommend anti-inflammatories and activity modification, or hip injections. However, when these conservative interventions fail to provide adequate relief, a hip replacement will likely be required.
How Do Hip Replacements Work?
Hip replacement surgery, also known as hip arthroplasty, is a procedure that involves replacing a diseased or damaged hip with a prosthesis. Hip replacement can be done either under regional anesthesia or general anesthesia, via a minimally invasive technique, through different approaches. The most common approaches orthopedic surgeons employ for hip replacements are the anterior (cut is made in the front of the hip) and the posterior (cut is made from behind or the side of the hip).
During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon makes an incision, either in the front or at the side (or back), depending on the approach being used. Once the doctor accesses the hip, they will remove the damaged cartilage and bone and replace it with a prosthesis made of metal and plastic. The surgeon will be very careful to keep healthy tissue and bone intact.
The metal part replaces the femoral head (which is attached to a stem that is fitted into your thigh bone), while the plastic-lined metal shell replaces the socket part of the hip joint. The socket component has a porous surface, which allows for bone ingrowth. The doctor may use a special type of cement to attach the prosthesis to the bone. The cement and eventual bone ingrowth will hold the prosthesis in place.
Minimally invasive hip replacements use smaller incisions, which involve less pain and shorter downtime and allow patients to recover faster than normal.
Regardless of which technique and approach are used, hip replacements yield a high success rate. Approximately 95 percent of patients who had undergone hip replacements report significant pain reduction and movement restoration and are now able to enjoy a good quality of life.
Hip Replacement in San Antonio, TX
At the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons have performed numerous successful hip replacement surgeries, enabling countless patients in San Antonio to live pain-free lives.
To find out whether you’re a good candidate for a hip replacement, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons by calling us at (210) 692-7400. You may also use our online appointment request form.