Surgeons at NYU Langone attempt to preserve the hip joint and stop the progression of cartilage damage whenever possible. However, if you have hip osteoarthritis, or if the hip joint is misaligned to such an extent that function cannot be restored, our doctors may recommend total hip replacement.
In total hip replacement, also called hip arthroplasty, a surgeon removes the entire hip joint, replacing the “ball-and-socket” components—the femoral head and acetabulum—with durable prosthetic parts. Total hip replacement may be recommended if hip osteoarthritis is present in addition to a hip labral tear. A new hip may dramatically improve your quality of life by alleviating pain and restoring function and a full range of motion.
Total hip replacement surgery is performed while you are under spinal anesthesia or general anesthesia. A surgeon makes an incision along the front, side, or back of the hip to access the hip joint. The femoral head is removed as well as any cartilage or other tissue in the acetabulum. The surgeon then puts the prosthetic femoral head and acetabulum in place, and closes the incision with stitches. Surgeons inject pain medication into the surrounding tissues of the hip to help with pain control after the operation.
After the anesthesia wears off, you may feel pain in the hip. This is normal, and pain management specialists immediately work with you to make sure you are comfortable while your body heals.
As soon as you feel capable, NYU Langone physical therapists help you to stand and walk. Getting out of bed and standing or taking a few steps helps you to retain strength in your muscles and joints, increases blood flow to the leg, and may help speed your overall recovery. For the next couple of days, these specialists monitor healing and continue to help you learn to walk using your new hip.
Most people leave the hospital after two days and return to the hospital to have the stitches removed and for a follow-up examination two weeks later. Crutches, a cane, or a walker are usually required for two to four weeks to help you walk, and over-the-counter or prescription pain medication may be helpful during this time.
After you can walk unassisted and without pain, NYU Langone specialists can help you to rebuild muscle and increase the flexibility and range of motion in the hip. Our rehabilitation doctors and physical therapists customize an exercise routine that you can do at home to continue to condition and strengthen your muscles. Physical therapy should continue for 6 to 12 weeks, at which time NYU Langone doctors assess your progress before determining if further physical therapy if needed.
Today’s new joint implants are made with more durable material than in the past, and the majority of people have not experienced complications due to a prosthetic hip for 20 years or more. The longevity of the newer implants means that total hip replacement is now an option for young, active people, for whom this surgery may be the best option for eliminating chronic hip joint pain.
After 20 years, a small number of joint implants begin to wear out and may need to be replaced. Our doctors recommend annual doctor’s appointments after surgery, so that our specialists can ensure your hip implant continues to perform well.
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