November 01, 2019

Hip replacement

Back on your feet

Advances have made hip replacements easier, and the recovery process has been dramatically improved. It's still a major undertaking and risks need to be weighed against benefits. However, hip replacement can relieve pain from a damaged hip joint and improve your ability to stay active.

Hip replacement

For too long, simple movements — bending down to tie your shoes, getting into and out of the car — have come with burning pain and tightness in your left hip. Walking has become increasingly difficult, and you find yourself skipping out on activities you enjoy. Medications and stretches aren't helping much. You've known for a few years now that a hip replacement was in your future, and now your doctor agrees that the time is right.

Having a hip replacement is a major undertaking. But when other options to keep hip pain under control aren't adequate, the procedure can provide significant improvements. Pain may lessen, and often goes away. And your ability to exercise and go about your daily activities will likely improve.

Medical advances have made hip replacements easier, and the recovery process also has been dramatically improved. More than 370,000 people have a hip replacement in the U.S. yearly, a number that's expected to grow in coming decades. When considering hip replacement, it's important to know how the procedure works and how potential risks compare with likely benefits.

Hip basics

The hip joint has great strength and stability. As the largest ball-and-socket joint, it's designed to bear weight and allow for a wide range of motion. It includes the femoral head — that's the ball-like head of the thighbone (femur).

The femoral head fits deeply into the hip socket, called the acetabulum (as-uh-TAB-u-lum), and the joint is supported by muscles and tendons. A firm, slippery tissue...