What is a Total Hip Replacement?

North Carolina Specialty Hospital is proud to be a regional leader in total hip replacement surgeries. Our team of board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons uses the most advanced technology to ensure the best possible outcomes, including fast recovery and reduced pain.

A total hip replacement can help improve your mobility and quality of life by restoring function to a damaged joint. Whether the damage is caused by an injury, arthritis, or other chronic condition, you can count on the NCSH team to be with you every step of the way.

The Basics of Total Hip Replacement

The hip joint is the largest joint in the body. A ball-and-socket type joint, it connects the upper end of the femur (the thigh bone) to the pelvis. More specifically, the femoral head is the ball that fits into the acetabulum, the socket in the pelvis.

A diagram detailing the structures involved in a total hip replacement.

Both surfaces are covered with articular cartilage that helps the joint move smoothly, as well as synovial fluid, which provides lubrication and prevents friction. Thick bands of tissue called ligaments hold everything in place.

During a total hip replacement, damaged bone and cartilage are removed and replaced with a prosthetic joint made from plastic or metal. The femoral head is replaced with a stem and ball, while the cartilage is removed from the acetabulum and replaced with a new socket. The surgeon also inserts a spacer between the ball and socket to help the joint move smoothly.

Most hip replacements take about two hours to complete, and the majority of patients are discharged home the same day. If you do need to remain in the hospital, it will likely only be for a day or two. Physical therapy and rehabilitation begin almost immediately after surgery, and most people can begin returning to their normal activities — with restrictions — in 3-6 weeks.

The Most Common Reasons for Hip Replacement Surgery

Orthopedic surgeons typically recommend hip surgery only after more conservative measures have failed to provide pain relief or improve mobility. Before surgery, doctors may recommend:

  • Activity restrictions
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Mobility aids, including crutches, canes, and walkers
  • Pain medication, including both over-the-counter and prescription options
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss

If these methods are not effective, the surgeon may recommend surgery. Surgery is most often recommended when hip pain persists and disrupts normal daily activities, or when pain and stiffness limit mobility and range of motion.

Certain conditions are more likely to lead to total hip replacement, including:

  • Congenital or childhood hip disorders that affect growth or the joint surfaces
  • Osteoarthritis, a “wear and tear” type of arthritis
  • Osteonecrosis, an injury that restricts blood flow to the femoral head and causes the bone to deteriorate or collapse
  • Post-traumatic arthritis, or damage to the joint caused by an injury
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, joint damage caused by an autoimmune disease

When these conditions no longer respond to conservative treatment methods, a hip replacement may be necessary.

Less Invasive Options for Hip Replacement

The orthopedic surgeons at NCSH are committed to the least invasive options possible for total hip replacement procedures.

An operating room at North Carolina Specialty Hospital.

This commitment includes the use of MAKOplasty, a minimally invasive approach to joint replacements that is supported by the Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopaedic System (RIO). Using MAKOplasty, our surgeons can precisely target the damaged areas of the joint without compromising healthy bone and tissue.

NCSH surgeons also perform direct anterior hip replacements. With this method, the joint is approached from the front rather than the side or rear. There’s no need to detach muscles from the pelvis or leg bones, and the surgeon can work within the natural space between the muscles.

Using these minimally invasive approaches offers several advantages, including:

  • Reduced pain
  • Smaller incisions
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery and return to activity

Your surgeon will discuss different surgical approaches with you to choose the one that is best for your condition. Regardless of the surgical approach, hip replacement surgery is consistently one of the most successful procedures, and the majority of patients report being satisfied with the results.

The North Carolina Specialty Hospital Difference

NCSH not only offers access to some of the most accomplished orthopedic surgeons and advanced procedures in the Southeast region but also provides a patient experience that is second to none.

Both in and out of the operating room you can trust that you are in good hands. Our team is committed to supporting you at every step of the way, from the preadmission “Total Joint” classes to your recovery at home.

If you think you may be a candidate for total hip replacement, talk to your healthcare provider or orthopedic specialist. You can also contact NCSH with questions at any time.

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