UnityPoint Health - Madison

Total Hip Replacement

When is the right time to have a hip replacement surgery is one of the most difficult and commonly asked questions. Hip replacement surgery should be performed when the hip joint has reached a point when painful symptoms can no longer be controlled with non-operative treatments.

Signs You're Ready for a Hip Replacement

  • You have hip/groin pain that keeps you awake, or awakens you, at night.
  • You have hip pain that limits activities necessary to go about your daily activities (getting up from a chair, climbing stairs, etc.).
  • You have hip pain that limits activities that give you pleasure (walking, exercising, traveling, shopping, etc.).
  • You have tried other treatments for a reasonable period of time, and you still have persistent hip pain.

The most common type of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is often referred to as "wear-and-tear" arthritis, and it results in the wearing away of the normal smooth cartilage until bare bone is exposed causing severe pain. In a hip replacement procedure, your surgeon removes the damaged joint surface and replaces it with an artificial implant.

  • Posterior Approach

    The posterior approach is most commonly used by orthopedic surgeons that focus on hip procedures. The surgeon accesses the joint from the back, removing muscle and the short external rotators from the femur and later re-attached. This approach gives excellent access to the acetabulum (concave surface of the pelvis) and preserves the hip abductors.
  • Lateral Approach

    The lateral approach is also commonly used for hip replacement. The approach accesses the joint from the side. It requires detachment of the hip abductors and reapplying them afterwards. It may decrease the rate of hip dislocation and diminish the risk of injury to the sciatic nerve.
  • Anterior Approach

    The anterior approach allows surgeons to reach the hip joint from the front of the hip. This way, the hip can be replaced without detachment of muscle from the pelvis or femur during surgery. The surgeon can simply work through the natural interval between the muscles. The gluteal muscles are left undisturbed and, therefore, do not require recovery time from surgical trauma.

Results of a Hip Replacement

After hip replacement you can expect nearly complete relief of pain. While an artificial hip is not a normal hip, you can expect to resume most activities of daily living with comfort and ease.

Many patients notice a significant improvement in their overall energy level when the strain of constant pain is eliminated. Less dependence on others is another frequent benefit noted after total hip replacement.