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Hip Surgeries: What to Expect from Various Treatment Options

Fully functioning hips are essential to everyday activities. Whether you are going for a walk, cleaning the house, or running errands, you need your hips to function. 

Given how essential hips are, patients may need hip surgeries if painful joint damage limits their mobility. Thankfully, patients have more options than ever before for minimally invasive hip surgeries that can repair fractures, resurface the joint, and more. 

Read on to learn about arthroscopic hip surgery and what to expect if you need an operation on your hips.


Arthroscopic Hip Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is a collection of minimally invasive procedures designed around an arthroscope – a long, flexible tube with a camera. This tool allows the surgeon to visualize the site of surgical manipulation without making a large incision and opening up the joint more than necessary. As a result, there is less risk and a faster recovery associated with arthroscopic surgery.

Damaged hip joints can benefit from a wide range of arthroscopic surgeries, including:

  • Removal of bone spurs (impingement repair)
  • Cartilage repair
  • Loose body removal
  • Torn labrum correction

Arthroscopic hip surgeries are usually performed on an outpatient basis. And when compared to open-surgery patients, arthroscopic patients recover rapidly. In fact, depending on the operation, the patient may be allowed to start rehabilitation immediately following surgery. It is not uncommon for patients to reclaim their range of motion within a week and their ability to walk within just two to three weeks.

Surgeons provide their patients with guidelines for recovery from hip surgery, including a timeline and best practices for supporting healing. They often prescribe recovery treatments to speed the process. 

Physical therapy is important for most patients recovering from joint surgery. A trained PT can help a patient strengthen and stretch the right muscles and safely regain mobility in the hip. From physical therapy, patients can move on to light physical training. This might include gentle strength training and walking. 

Hip Replacement Surgery

The hip is a “ball-and-socket” joint where the “ball” at the top of the thigh bone (femur) fits inside the “socket” in the pelvis (acetabulum). A natural substance in the body called cartilage lubricates the joint. 

When the hip’s bone and/or cartilage becomes diseased or damaged from arthritis, hip fractures, bone death, or other causes, the joint can stiffen and be very painful. When other hip surgeries are inadequate to repair the damage, reduce pain, and improve mobility, specialists may recommend a total hip replacement.

What Happens During Hip Replacement Surgery? 

In a total hip replacement, the diseased bone and cartilage are replaced with a metal ball and plastic cup. The artificial joint, called a prosthesis, may be cemented in place, cementless, or a hybrid of the two. The surgery takes two to four hours, followed by another few hours spent under observation in a recovery room. Patients usually enjoy immediate relief from joint pain after the surgery.

Although it is a serious procedure, hip replacements have advanced significantly over the years. It only takes about two hours to complete, and a surgeon may need even less time for partial replacement, between one and two hours. 

During a total hip replacement, the surgeon removes both sides of the joint—the ball at the end of the femur and the socket on the pelvis—and replaces them with synthetic components. In some cases, a surgeon can do a partial replacement, removing and replacing just one side of the joint. 

What is Recovery Like for a Hip Replacement?

Physical therapy starts as soon as the first day after surgery to strengthen the muscles and prevent scarring (contracture). Therapy begins with the patient sitting in a chair and progresses to stepping, walking, and climbing stairs, first with crutches or walkers and then without supportive devices. Occupational therapy and at-home exercises help patients learn how to use the prosthesis in everyday activities.

Total hip replacement is successful in over 95% of well-selected patients. On average, replacements last 15-20 years, and some patients enjoy full use of the prosthesis after 25 years or longer.

Hip Fractures

A hip fracture is a break in the top of the femur (thigh bone) where the bone angles toward the hip joint. If the break occurs within two inches of the joint, it is called a femoral neck fracture. It is known as an intertrochanteric fracture if it occurs between two and four inches from the joint. A break further down the bone is classified as a broken femur rather than a broken hip.

Hip fractures usually make it too painful for the person to stand and may even cause the leg to turn outward or shorten. They generally require hospitalization and surgical repair.

A person’s risk of a hip fracture increases if they are:
An elderly man shows a doctor where his hip pain is located.

  • Over 65
  • Female
  • Small-boned
  • Have a family history of hip fractures
  • Have osteoporosis or low calcium
  • Smoke or use alcohol excessively
  • Physically or mentally impaired
  • Take medications that cause weakness or dizziness

Hip fractures are a common and severe problem for the elderly, for whom a simple fall in the home may be enough to break the bone.

Hip Repair vs. Hip Replacement

A joint specialist is the best person to help patients decide if they need a repair or a joint replacement. Most repairs can be performed with an arthroscopic procedure, which is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time. 

While a hip replacement is more invasive and requires a longer recovery time, it’s sometimes a better option for patients with daily pain, significant joint damage, and severely limited mobility. 

For the most advanced and safest hip surgeries on Long Island, contact the specialists at South Island Orthopedics. Our orthopedic and sports medicine experts provide various treatments and services. Call or click here to request an appointment online.