Conditions Leading To Hip Replacement Surgery

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are more than 300,000 hip replacement surgeries performed in the United States annually. What are the causes for these hip replacements, and what conditions can lead to the need for a hip replacement? 


When a hip replacement is needed:

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint surrounded by cartilage on both articulating parts of the joint, the head of the femur and the acetabulum. Damage to the cartilage, or wear on the joint can result in pain, stiffness, and the inability to perform everyday activities. 

This chronic immobility of the joint and the increased inflammation can be resolved with a joint replacement for the hip.  In this case the damaged cartilage is replaced with an artificial ball and socket implanted into the bone, and a spacer inserted between to provide a smooth surface with movement. 


Conditions that can lead to a hip replacement:

There are a few conditions or injuries that can lead to the need for a hip replacement. The majority of patients who undergo hip replacement surgery are between the ages of 50 and 80, so many of these conditions are chronic over many years with a build up to the need for the replacement. 

Hip Dysplasia- 

Hip Dysplasia is defined as a hip socket that doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the femur. This creates an unstable joint, and can often result in dislocations, hip labral tears, and further cartilage damage. If the problem is found in infancy, braces can be worn to correct the problem, and in some cases surgical interventions can help improve the positioning of the joint. 


The most common cause of joint replacements, osteoarthritis is the gradual wearing away of the cartilage in a joint. After the smooth articular surface wears away the joint rubs against each other causing increased pain and joint stiffness. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis-

This is an autoimmune disease that affects the synovial lining of your joints. The increase in joint pain and swelling can cause deformity and damage to the cartilage. The severity of rheumatoid arthritis may come and go, but chronic inflammation in the joint can result in permanent damage and need for surgical intervention. 

Avascular Necrosis-

Avascular Necrosis occurs when the blood supply to the head of the femur in the hip socket is disrupted. The lack of blood supply leads to bone and cartilage break down in the joint. The resulting arthritis becomes chronic and can then be treated with a hip replacement. There are several causes of avascular necrosis, including fat deposits in the blood vessels, excessive alcohol intake, hip dislocations or fracture, radiation treatments and the long term use of high dose steroids. 

Previous Hip Injury or Fracture-

Patients who have suffered a traumatic hip injury or fracture previously have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis in the joint. Even if the injury took place at a younger age the cartilage damage can increase over time causing pain and stiffness in the hip joint. 


If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions in the past, and you are having continued hip pain and stiffness, contact the Heekin Clinic to find out what course of treatment is right for you. 


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