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Introduction: Total hip arthroplasty, also known as total hip replacement, is a surgery that is performed to replace a damaged hip joint with an artificial joint made of metal or plastic.

Function: Total hip arthroplasty can relieve pain and restore function and range of motion to the hip.

History of Injury: Total hip arthroplasty is rarely performed after an injury, but it is often needed due to the wear and tear caused by arthritis.

Diagnosis: Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss your health history and perform a physical exam. He or she may also take X-rays, and your orthopedic surgeon may also need to schedule CT or MRI scans. Having the information these scans provide will help your orthopedic surgeon determine the specific location of the damage and the extent of the damage which will help your surgeon determine the best treatment for you, whether it be a total hip replacement or something else.

Treatment: Total Hip Arthroplasty

Initial: If you have mild hip pain, instead of recommending surgery right away, your orthopedic surgeon may suggest anti-inflammatory medications or analgesics, such as acetaminophen. Other nonsurgical options include steroid injections or using walking support, such as a cane, or doing exercises. If you are obese or overweight, your surgeon will likely suggest healthy weight loss to see if that reduces your pain and inflammation.

Long Term: Most patients who have total hip arthroplasty say that it reduces or eliminates pain, as well as improves hip function and their quality of life. It also provides leg length adjustments and improves a patient’s ability to walk. 

Indications for Surgery: Your orthopedic surgeon will assess your pain and movement levels. If your hip hurts when you are using it for simple tasks, such as climbing the stairs, and when you are resting, it is an indication that surgery is a good option for you. Total hip arthroplasty is best for people who are over 40 years old who have arthritis in more than one area of their hip, though successful hip arthroplasty has been performed on patients of all ages.

Surgery: During total hip arthroplasty, you will be under general anesthesia, and your surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage of your joint from the surface of your bones. Next, he or she shapes these surfaces to hold the artificial joint, which your surgeon will then position and attach to replace the damaged surface and restore joint function. 

Post-Operation: You will go to a recovery room while your anesthesia wears off, and you will be monitored. The average hospital stay after total hip arthroplasty varies depending on your situation—such as the extent of damage you had, your overall health, and your age—but it is usually at least several days. 

Rehabilitation: You should be able to ease into light activity after three to six weeks. Typically, patients begin recovery by using parallel bars to practice walking. Next, you will transition to a walking device, such as crutches or a walker. After six to eight weeks, you should be able to perform most normal and low-impact activities, and further improvement will be seen in strength and function for six to twelve months.

Risks and Complications: As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection or blood clots. Sometimes, the range of motion may be more limited than was expected, and scarring and dislocation can occur. Additionally, over time, implant surfaces become worn and the artificial joint may loosen from use. Typically around 10 years after surgery, a revision total hip arthroplasty may be needed.

Summary: You should seek out an experienced orthopedic surgeon to perform your total hip arthroplasty. This clinician should not only be skilled at performing the surgery, but also knowledgeable about choosing patients who are appropriate for the procedure. While many patients are candidates for the technique, only an experienced, skilled surgeon knows for sure who will benefit most from the procedure.