Total Hip Replacement (Arthroplasty)


The hip is a ball and socket joint that contains the femoral head (the ball) and the acetabulum (the socket). Like other joints, both the femoral head and the acetabulum are covered in cartilage, a slippery material that helps your bones move without pain.

In addition to the femoral head, the acetabulum, and the labrum, the hip joint is surrounded by a number of ligaments and muscles that give the joint motion and provide stability. All of these structures work together to provide motion that allows us to walk, run, and jump, while keeping the hip stable and preventing further injury.


Osteorthritis is a disease that causes the smooth cartilage covering the bones to be worn away. This results in bones rubbing on bones, which is very painful. Once a patient has developed advanced arthritis most of the cartilage is completely worn away and there is no way to replace the cartilage.  In addition, bony overgrowth and spurs at the edge of the acetabulum or on the neck of the femur can cause “impingement,” which leads to more damage and pain. The only way to prevent pain from bone-on-bone rubbing is by replacing the injured cartilage and bone with an artificial implant.


Total Hip Replacement surgery (also called “total hip arthroplasty”) replaces the areas of missing cartilage with either metal, ceramic, plastic (polyethylene) or a combination. The surgery requires a long incision that allows the surgeon to see that areas of arthritis, remove all of the damaged bone, and replace them with the artificial implants.  The main parts to a total hip replacement is the stem (femoral component) that includes the head (the ball), the cup (acetabulum) and sometimes a plastic liner called a “poly.”


Rehabilitation plays a vital role in returning you to normal activities. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy exercises before and after surgery to help you regain hip strength and motion, allowing you to return to walking and other activities quickly. These protocols can vary depending on your surgeon’s preference and surgical technique. Often, patients may limp for up to a year before complete return of strength. Your commitment to rehabilitation is key to a successful outcome.


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