Hip replacement surgery removes damaged or diseased parts of a hip joint and replaces them with new, man-made parts. The objectives of the surgery are to relieve pain, help the hip joint work better and improve walking.
The hip joint is located where the upper end of the femur, or thigh bone, meets the pelvis, or hip bone. A ball at the end of the femur, called the femoral head, fits in a socket (the acetabulum) in the pelvis to allow a wide range of motion.
Hip replacement surgery lasts from 1 to 2 hours, in which the surgeon makes a 6- to 8-inch incision over the side of the hip through the muscles and removes the diseased bone tissue and cartilage from the hip joint. The healthy parts of the joint are left untouched. Thereafter, the surgeon replaces the head of the femur and acetabulum with new, artificial parts. The materials fixed in the hip allow a natural gliding motion of the joint.
If hip replacement is not possible, your doctor will suggest other treatments including walking aids (such as a cane), an exercise program, physical therapy and medications. These treatments may decrease hip pain and improve function. Sometimes the pain remains and makes daily activities hard to do. In that case, doctor may order an x ray to look at the damage to the joint. If the x ray shows damage and your hip joint hurts, you may need a hip replacement.
Healthy, active people often have a comfortable life after hip replacement surgery. You doctor will not recommend hip replacement if you have a disease that causes severe muscle weakness, Parkinson's disease, a high risk of infection and poor health.
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