Over time, cartilage in the hip can wear away or become damaged, causing the bones to rub and grind together. This causes much of the pain and stiffness patients feel. Although people frequently associate joint pain with an injury or fracture to the hip, other common causes of a damaged hip include:
- Breakdown of the joint's cartilage (osteoarthritis)
- Cartilage injuries
- Decay of the bone from long-term use of alcohol or steroids (necrosis)
- Hip impingement
- Inflamed and stiff cartilages (rheumatoid arthritis or gout)
- Labral tears
- Loose bodies in the joint
Many hip problems can be managed with physical therapy and rehabilitation; however, depending on your situation, your hip surgery specialist may recommend hip surgery or a hip replacement.
The goal of hip replacement surgery is to help relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. In a total hip replacement surgery, the painful parts of the damaged hip are replaced with artificial hip parts called a prosthesis, a device that substitutes or supplements a joint. The prosthesis consists of three components: a socket, ball, and stem. The outer shell of the socket is usually made of metal and the inner shell consists of plastic, or the entire socket may be plastic. When the metal ball is joined with the socket, the new hip allows for smooth, nearly frictionless movement.
MedStar Georgetown now offers a new treatment for hip arthritis in younger patients that has been proven successful around the world. When younger patients are faced with severe hip pain due to arthritis, dysplasia, or avascular necrosis, they have an option that may be more successful than a total hip replacement: the bone-conserving Birmingham Hip Resurfacing system.
In this procedure, surgeons clean away the damaged surfaces on the affected hip bones instead of completely removing the hip components. The damaged surfaces are replaced with highly durable material that actually helps strengthen the hip joint, allowing bone to grow around it.
Compared with total hip replacement, hip resurfacing offers many benefits for patients younger than 60 who would like to remain active, including
- Greater post-operative stability, which is a key component of hip surgery as it dramatically decreases the chance of dislocation.
- The materials used to create the Birmingham Hip are designed to reduce joint wear.
- This procedure allows surgeons to conserve more of the patient's bone, which makes concerns about leg length discrepancy virtually non-existent.
- Because the femoral head and neck are preserved by the hip resurfacing technique, a patient can still have a total hip replacement in the future, if necessary.
- After a solid year of recovery, patients are able to return to their favorite activities, such as jogging or singles tennis—unlikely feats with a total hip replacement.
Hip replacements are designed to last your entire life. However, replacements can wear out due to natural use over time, or to an infection that can develop in nearby tissues. Hip revisions remove old hip implants that may have become a problem, and replace them with new ones. This surgery requires extraordinary skill to remedy the initial replacement—MedStar orthopaedic surgeons in both the central Maryland and Washington regions have the requisite expertise and surgical skill to perform such an important procedure.
Infected Total Joints
If a total joint replacement becomes infected, the health of the joint and limb, as well as the overall health of the patient, become an immediate concern.
Not all orthopaedic specialists are trained to manage and treat infected total joints. At MedStar Georgetown, our orthopaedic surgeons appropriately manage and aggressively treat infections. This often times requires removal of the total joint implant and a course of antibiotics followed by revision joint replacement. While this is unfortunate, it is critical for removing the bacteria from your system and maximizing your overall health and outcome.
Learn more about Hip Surgery at MedStar Orthopaedic Institute.
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Revolutionary Approach to Hip Replacement
Riti Kline, in town for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) annual convention, spent Independence Day watching the fireworks from a bed at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. It wasn't the Fourth of July holiday that Rita had planned, nor had she planned the fall that landed her in the hospital with a broken hip.