What is a total hip replacement (THR)?

Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure that replaces the hip joint with artificial parts, called prostheses.  Total hip replacement is one of the most successful orthopedic procedures performed today. For patients with hip pain due to a variety of conditions, THR can relieve pain, restore function, and improve quality of life.

Total hip replacement is performed in an operating room after you are given general or regional (epidural or spinal) anesthesia. To perform a hip replacement, your surgeon:

  • Makes an incision over the front or side of your hip, through the layers of tissue
  • Removes diseased and damaged bone and cartilage, leaving healthy bone intact
  • Implants the prosthetic socket into your pelvic bone, to replace the damaged socket
  • Replaces the round ball on the top of your femur with the prosthetic ball, which is attached to a stem that fits into your thighbone

artificial joint diagram

What causes the need for a THR?

The normal hip functions as a “ball-and-socket” joint. The femoral head (ball) articulates with the acetabulum (socket), allowing smooth range of motion in multiple planes. Any condition that affects either of these structures can lead to deterioration of the joint. This, in turn, can lead to deformity, pain, and loss of function. The most common condition affecting the hip in this way is osteoarthritis. Other conditions that may affect the hip adversely include inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, spondyloarthropathies, etc), developmental dysplasia, childhood hip disorders.

Artificial Joint Xray

What does physical therapy do after surgery?

Physical therapy will begin while you are still in the hospital on most occasions and nowadays isn’t always required to do outpatient physical therapy.  Walking is sometimes all the therapy you need! However, in some cases physical therapy will still be recommended if you were in a pain a long time prior to getting the replacement and have a lot of weakness and instability.  Or if you are still having a lot pain, imbalances, or weakness after surgery as well. It can really help to prevent you from falling!

Major precautions after surgery are NOT to cross your legs or bend your hip greater than 90 degrees, but should be discussed in detail with your surgeon.  The following article is helpful for how to do your daily activities without putting your prostheses at risk for dislocating.

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