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Joint Replacement Surgery

Hip Replacement Surgery

The hip joint is commonly called a "ball and socket" joint. The "ball" of the hip joint, the femoral head, rests within a "socket" called the acetabulum (see figure below). The femoral head and acetabulum are covered by a specialized surface, articular cartilage, which allows smooth and painless motion of the joint. With hip injury or disease, articular cartilage undergoes degeneration and wears away. The joint surfaces become rough and irregular resulting in pain and stiffness. This is commonly known as "arthritis" but it has many causes. The onset of pain is gradual and, initially, it occurs only after higher levels of physical activity. Pain gradually increases and may become present at rest as well. Physical disability includes a limp, muscle spasm, and decreased range of motion with increasing stiffness.

Treatment options include reducing stress on the hip, physical therapy, and medications. Weight reduction is highly desirable, since one pound weight loss equals three pounds in stress reduction on the hip while walking! The use of a cane or walking stick is also a very effective means of reducing stress on the hip. Physical therapy and exercises are directed at preserving muscle strength and range of motion within the limits of pain. Recommended medications include anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin, Indocin, Motrin, Feldene, Naprosyn, Voltaren, Lodine, and others.

Selection of the optimal treatment plan should be consistent with the degree of pain, the amount of hip disability, and the nonsurgical and surgical alternatives. The individual's anticipated life span will also influence the selection of treatment.

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