Like the shoulder, the hip joint is a large ball-and-socket joint. It allows the thighbone, or femur, to rotate in various directions so you can stand and walk. However, if the bone or cartilage and other soft tissues of the hip joint are damaged due to injury, wear and tear from years of use, or other degenerative conditions, it can become very painful to stand, walk, or even sit.

Severe damage to the hip joint is frequently treated using total hip replacement, or total hip arthroplasty. Repairing the hip joint through a joint replacement procedure can help reduce hip pain and restore strength, function, and range of motion in the joint.

How Do I Know if I Need Hip Replacement Surgery?

You may require surgical treatment such as a hip replacement if you have bone or soft-tissue loss in the hip joint, or if the joint is becoming unstable. One of several forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis, may be the source of this joint degeneration. 

You should consult with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss hip replacement if you have been experiencing any of the following:

  • Conservative treatment methods, such as exercise or therapy, are unsuccessful
  • Hip joint discomfort that prevents you from participating in recreational activities
  • Pain in and around the hip that keeps you awake at night
  • Severe hip joint pain that limits your ability to conduct necessary and daily functions, such as climbing stairs or standing up

Only an orthopedic surgery practice should evaluate you for a direct anterior total hip replacement, partial or total knee replacement, or shoulder replacement surgery. 

Procedures Available at Tahoe Forest Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Posterior Hip Replacement:

A posterior hip replacement is the traditional method used in hip replacement surgery. This procedure requires an incision to be made behind the hip to expose the joint before damaged bone and/or soft tissues are removed and replaced with hip implants. To create the new joint, one implant is placed in the socket of the joint, and the other is placed on the upper femur, where the leg meets the hip.

Anterior Hip Replacement:

The latest technique in hip arthroplasty is direct anterior hip replacement surgery, which is available right here at Tahoe Forest Hospital, which is one of the few locations and the most experienced in the region offering this special technique, an alternative to traditional posterior hip replacement surgery.

The direct anterior approach provides muscle-sparing surgery with less pain, a faster recovery time, improved mobility, and a faster rehabilitation than traditional hip surgery. The direct anterior approach, involving an incision in the front of the hip, does not cut any muscles and does not carry the same postoperative activity restrictions or dislocation risks as traditional posterior hip replacement. Using the direct anterior approach in combination with multimodal pain control, patients typically walk with their implant the day of surgery, spend only one night in the hospital, and are discharged the following day.

Revision Hip Replacement:

Artificial joints used in primary total hip replacement may have a lifespan that can require an additional surgery if the implant has worn out or if there have been other complications with the implant, such as dislocation or infection. The procedure performed to correct any problems with an artificial joint is called revision joint replacement surgery.

A hip revision is a complicated procedure that can only be performed by a specialty-trained surgeon with extensive experience in hip revision surgery. Recovery after a hip revision is also more difficult than a primary hip replacement and typically takes six to eight weeks.  

What to Expect at Your Consultation

Prior to developing a treatment plan or performing a hip replacement, your surgeon will determine the source of your chronic pain. Your surgeon will order an X-ray and may also need you to schedule a CT or MRI scan. These scans will help your surgeon diagnose your condition and determine where the damage is located in and on the joint as well as the extent of the damage.

Your hip replacement surgeon may want you to undergo nonsurgical treatment methods before recommending a total hip replacement, such as joint injections, physical therapy, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, or prescribed pain medications. You may also need to try activity modification to improve your symptoms and avoid further damage. 

What to Expect During and After Recovery

The length of your hospital stay will depend on which procedure you underwent as well as your age, overall health, and the extent of your joint damage. After a traditional total hip replacement, it commonly requires four to six weeks of using support, like crutches, to stand or walk, as the operative site and area around the implant heals. Anterior hip replacement surgery typically requires the use of supportive devices for a shorter time period.

Recovering from a total hip joint replacement procedure frequently involves physical therapy with a certified physical therapist. Most patients require several months of rehabilitation to learn how to properly use their new hip. Some patients may also need to wear a hip abduction brace after various forms of hip replacement surgery to avoid dislocating the hip implant or other complications. 

For the best possible outcome, you will need to attend all follow-up appointments and avoid any high-impact activities, which could damage your implant or even result in a hip fracture.

Total hip replacement is considered a safe elective procedure. However, there is a potential risk of infection, blood clots, and other complications, as with any surgery. Choosing a highly skilled surgeon for your total joint replacement is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risks and optimize your results. He or she will be well versed in the procedure and will help develop a treatment plan suited to your individual needs.

Exceptional Care Begins at Tahoe Forest Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

At Tahoe Forest Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, our team of dedicated orthopedic experts is here for you. Our specialty-trained and knowledgeable hip replacement surgeons are backed by the latest state-of-the-art technology and have extensive experience to bring you the very best in orthopedic care. Our hip doctors have the surgical and nonsurgical expertise you need to reach your goals.

If you are experiencing hip pain due to a chronic condition, like hip arthritis, and are considering joint replacement or other options, call (530) 587-7461 to schedule an appointment with one of our expert hip surgeons or request an appointment online. We offer three convenient locations in Truckee, California, and Incline Village, Nevada: Tahoe Forest Orthopedics & Sports MedicineTahoe Forest Sports Medicine, and the Incline Village Community Hospital.