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Who Should Have a Hip Replacement?

Posted on in Surgery

Each year, approximately 290,000 hip replacement surgeries are conducted in the United States alone. Since the procedure was first performed in 1960, advances in the surgical techniques and materials used have made it one of the most successful and effective orthopedic surgeries. The goal of the procedure is to greatly decrease hip pain and to allow an increased range of motion at the hip, allowing patients to get back to most of their daily activities.

What Conditions May Require Hip Replacement?

Hip replacement may be needed as a result of several different conditions. The most common reason is end-stage osteoarthritis of the hip. Osteoarthritis is commonly referred to as “wear-and-tear” arthritis and generally affects older individuals as a result of gradual breakdown of the cartilage surrounding the hip joint.

Another relatively common reason for needing a hip replacement is rheumatoid arthritis, which is a type of autoimmune disease in which many different joints in the body are attacked by the body’s immune system. This causes inflammation, breakdown of the surrounding cartilage, pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints.

Other conditions that may require hip replacement include bone tumors that break down the hip joint, post-traumatic arthritis as a result of direct injury to the hip joint and osteoporosis, which is a disease characterized by reduced blood flow to one or several bones resulting in the breakdown of those bones.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Hip Replacement Surgery?

There are no absolute restrictions for hip replacement surgery in terms of age. The recommendation for surgery is based mainly on the individual patient’s degree of pain and disability. However, it is worth keeping in mind that an artificial joint may only last 15 years in some cases, so a second surgery may be needed later on, especially for younger patients.

In general, surgery is recommended when the hip pain is severe enough to limit daily living activities like walking or bending, when the hip is too stiff to allow the leg to be lifted or moved properly and when the hip pain is continuous throughout the day and night.

Hip replacement surgery should only be considered after all other treatments have failed or are no longer effective. For example, medications, physiotherapy, exercise programs and various walking aids should be attempted first, and the decision to undergo hip replacement surgery should be made after thorough evaluation by and discussion with your doctor and orthopedic surgeon.

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