A Total Hip Replacement: Things to Consider

Many people fear getting a total hip replacement because it involves major surgery. However, there may come a time when the pain you’re experiencing is so limiting that surgery becomes your only option. If the pain you currently experience is limiting your ability to live life to the fullest, you may find hip replacement surgery life-changing.

What Is Involved in a Total Hip Replacement?

Also known as total hip arthroplasty (THA), a total hip replacement surgery is among the most cost-effective and reliably successful orthopedic procedures undertaken today. THA delivers consistent benefits for patients with end-stage degenerative hip osteoarthritis (OA). Relief includes pain reduction, functional rehabilitation, and overall better quality of life.

Though once thought to be a surgery just for low-demand patients and the elderly, total hip arthroplasty is now becoming more popular in younger patients. During a hip replacement, the femoral head is swapped with a synthetic head on a shaft, and the acetabulum joint surface is lined with a bowl-shaped artificial joint surface.

A partial hip replacement can also be performed for fractures of the neck of the femur (usually displaced). During this procedure, only the femoral portion is replaced.

Anatomy of the Hip

The hip is made up of a ball-and-socket joint, and the poly-axial mobility exhibited at the hip is enabled by this architecture. Similar to all ball and socket joints, the acetabulum grips the femoral head beyond its maximal diameter. The socket, or the acetabulum—located in the pelvis—is a cup-shaped structure that serves as the articular surface for the femoral head to move inside. A layer of hyaline cartilage covers the head of the femur and the interior of the acetabulum.

When this cartilage wears away or is damaged (typically due to arthritis), the underlying bone is exposed, causing discomfort, stiffness, and perhaps shortening of the afflicted leg. The goal of replacing these surfaces is to relieve discomfort and stiffness, allowing you to live a more active and pain-free life.

Surgery Indications

End-stage symptomatic hip OA is the most prevalent reason patients opt for a THA. Furthermore, hip osteonecrosis (ON), congenital hip abnormalities like hip dysplasia, and inflammatory arthritic illnesses are typically solved with a THA. Hip ON, however, is more common in younger patients within the 35 to 50-year range. Among the most prevalent conditions that result in the need for hip replacement are:


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Arthritis caused by a traumatic event
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Hardware failure following internal treatment of hip fractures
  • Hip dysplasia and dislocations during birth

Reasons for Seeking a Diagnosis

Most of the time, severe pain, loss of range of motion, and functional limitations are the first indication that an individual might require complete hip replacement surgery.

A thorough differential diagnosis should be conducted for individuals complaining of hip pain. It is frequently referred to from either the spine or pelvis and has no relation to the hip joint itself. The diagnosis and care will be guided by an orthopedic surgeon.

Diagnosing the Problem

When it comes to X-rays, AP radiography is the first and, in many cases, only radiological examination sought as it may diagnose or confirm many diseases requiring a hip replacement. This will direct the need for more investigations if any are required. CT and MRI scans may be utilized to make a diagnosis as well.

Get Help Today

People from all walks of life may benefit from a hip replacement. If you are experiencing pain, you may want to contact The Practice of Matthew D. Barber, M.D. in Mobile, AL for a diagnosis. Not only can we help figure out what is wrong, but we can also help you get back to the life you want to live.


While Dr Barber focuses exclusively on the management of knee and hip problems with a focus on joint replacement procedures, he is proud to be a source of information for patients and has several specialist partners at ALABAMA ORTHOPAEDIC CLINIC who are available to treat any orthopedic condition.