The hip joint is a “ball and socket joint” made up of the femur (thighbone) and the acetabulum. In a healthy hip, a smooth cushion of cartilage sits between the head of the femur (ball) and the acetabulum (socket), allowing them to glide together smoothly. The hip joint is supported by muscles that help provide stability and motion.
Arthritis is a disease that affects the cartilage in the joint. Damaged cartilage causes a roughened surface and may lead to a clicking and catching sensation with persistent pain and limited range of motion.
There are three common types of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) – the most common type – is a progressive disease in which the cartilage is slowly worn down. The normally smooth surface of the joint becomes rough, which may cause pain, stiffness, and limited motion.
Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory arthritis) is a systemic process that may involve multiple joints at the same time. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people at any age and often is treated with very specific medications. The symptoms vary somewhat as pain usually worsens after periods of rest and inactivity as joints stiffen. Some may experience pain, swelling, redness and warmth, especially in the morning.
Post-traumatic arthritis may occur following an injury to the ligaments, cartilage, and bone that causes instability to the joint and leads to increased wearing of the cartilage surfaces.
The hip joint may develop cysts, bone spurs or loss of cartilage. The absence of cartilage will cause friction and narrowing of the normal joint space.
Symptoms may include an aching pain in the groin area, outer thigh and buttocks, and joint stiffness and reduced range of motion (difficulty putting on shoes and socks). The stress placed on the hip cartilage may increase pain symptoms and reduce activity levels. Inactivity can lead to weakened muscles that control the hip joint and further reduce the ability to perform daily activities.
The likelihood of arthritis increases with a family history and advancing age. Patients who are overweight and those who have undergone trauma to the hip joint may also experience increased wearing out of cartilage.
It is difficult to predict the timing and progression of the arthritic condition. Sometimes pain increases and the ability to participate daily activities decreases despite nonsurgical treatment plans. In those cases, a total hip replacement surgery may be recommended.
Total Hip Replacement Surgery
The artificial joint or prosthesis replaces the damaged bone with a new joint composed of an artificial ball connected to a stem which is inserted into your thigh bone.
An artificial socket or bowl-shaped cup will replace the worn out socket. All of the new parts create a smooth contact surface designed to mimic your healthy joint to provide greater range of motion, improving your function and quality of life.
There are many types of hip replacements that use different materials. Some are metal on metal, metal on plastic, or ceramic. Your surgeon will discuss various options and help determine the best choice and most appropriate one for your individual needs.
Your surgeon will discuss your condition and treatment plan. For any questions regarding the above information please feel free to contact the HSS Patient Education Programs at 212.606.1263.