Osteoarthritis of the hip affects millions of Americans every year, and often requires surgery to restore functioning and alleviate pain. Hip replacement surgery has been performed in the United States for over 40 years, and since its introduction, has become one of the most commonly performed and safest surgical procedures.
Total hip replacement has seen advancements in recent years that have improved the surgical process to potentially provide better postoperative results. Minimally invasive surgical procedures like anterior hip replacement use smaller incisions to avoid muscle and tendon damage, which may help patients avoid restrictions associated with traditional hip replacement surgery.
Anatomy of the Hip
The hip is a weight-bearing joint, responsible for supporting the body’s load when standing and during movement. The main hip joint is comprised of the end of the femur, or thighbone, and a cavity located on the pelvis known as the acetabulum. The femoral head rests within the acetabulum, forming a ball-and-socket joint with a wide range of motion. The bones’ surfaces are covered with cartilage that allows the hip to move freely without incurring damage due to friction.
Hip Arthritis Symptoms and Candidates for Hip Replacement
Hip damage can result from natural degeneration or through trauma to the bones; however, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent cause of chronic hip pain and disability. While traumatic damage can impact anyone, the risks for osteoarthritis are often associated with aging and activity-related wear-and-tear. Likewise, many cases of hip damage are progressive in nature, growing increasingly more severe over the course of time.
As everyday wear-and-tear takes a toll on the hip, the bones become damaged. Cartilage becomes ineffective at protecting the bones of the hip from friction, leading to hip pain, discomfort, and joint stiffness.
Frequently reported symptoms of arthritis include, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty walking, standing, and climbing stairs
- Discomfort while resting (either seated or lying down)
- Joint stiffness or swelling
- Needing a cane or other mobility support to get around
If the above symptoms are not responsive to non-invasive methods, such as anti-inflammatory medications or physical therapy, hip replacement may be the best option for eliminating discomfort and restoring function.
To determine whether a patient is a candidate for hip replacement, Dr. Greene must determine the full extent of hip damage and get an in-depth medical history, including both general health and specific injury symptoms. The degree to which hip disability inhibits the completion of daily activities will be a significant consideration in determining a treatment approach.
In addition to a battery of physical tests (alignment, mobility, and strength), an x-ray, MRI, and/or blood tests will be performed to identify any extraneous damage factors and overarching bone condition. These factors will influence the surgery type recommended, as well as the post-op rehabilitation measures prescribed.
Benefits of Anterior Hip Replacement
While traditional hip replacement has been a successful solution to hip arthritis, anterior approach hip replacement provides the benefits of minimally invasive surgery, including quicker post-operative recovery. Additionally, patients who have had an anterior hip replacement may be able to move their hips immediately after surgery.
Anterior hip replacements provide a number of potential benefits beyond traditional hip replacement surgery, including:
- Shorter post-operative rehabilitation period
- Less noticeable scarring
- Less blood loss and less post-operative pain
- Reduced risk of dislocation
- More natural feel
Anterior Hip Replacement Procedure
Hip replacement aims to alleviate a patient’s joint pain by removing the damaged bone and cartilage and replacing it with a prosthetic implant, designed to fit and feel like a natural hip joint. These implants aim to restore joint function and return patients to the activities they enjoy.
Due to procedural complexity, hip replacement operations are typically performed under general anesthesia and on an inpatient basis. During the surgery, which will likely last 2-4 hours, Dr. Greene will remove the damaged cartilage and bone, applying prosthetic elements to restore natural alignment and function. Whether bone cement is used to secure the prosthesis will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Anterior approach hip replacement utilizes smaller incisions — approximately 3–4 inches, as opposed to traditional hip replacement’s incision sizes of 8–12 inches — leaving patients with significantly less scarring. Incisions are made on the front of the hip, allowing the hip surgeon to perform the procedure without detaching the muscles or tendons. These small incisions contribute to less blood loss during the surgery, giving patients less postoperative pain.
Recovery and Long-Term Hip Health
For any hip replacement, special precautions and recovery efforts will be required for successful post-op rehabilitation. Immediately following surgery, rest and avoidance of hip strain will be emphasized. In most cases, basic activities will not be resumed until 3-6 weeks after surgery, and will be undertaken on a gradual basis.
In order to rebuild mobility and strength, a walking program will be prescribed in conjunction with more formal physical therapy efforts. Special supports will be used to assist with walking, as well as for standing from a seated position or using stairs. Other efforts will include the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as nutrition management.
Hip replacement surgery has a low complication rate; however, serious issues can occur. Any unusual pain, skin discoloration, or other symptoms for concern should be reported to the surgical team immediately.
Baton Rouge, LA Hip Surgeon: Anterior Hip Replacement
Dr. Craig C. Greene is a fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in joint replacement and anterior hip replacement. Through his practice in Baton Rouge, LA, Dr. Greene provides his patients with safe and effective treatment methods that work to alleviate joint pain and return patients to previous levels of activity. For more information about anterior hip replacement, please call (225) 800-4640 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Greene at his offices, conveniently located on Bluebonnet Boulevard.