Help for Aching Joints: hip replacement

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Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, and is the most frequent cause of discomfort and chronic hip pain. When activity modification, medication, physical therapy and other conservative methods of treatment are no longer relieving debilitating hip pain, it may be time to discuss total hip replacement with your doctor. Fortunately, hip replacement surgery has proven to be one of the most successful procedures for restoring patients’ functional quality of life.

The hip is one of the ball and socket joints in the body. Arthritis erodes the cartilage between the femur (“ball”) and the pelvis (“socket”) that allows your joint to move smoothly without pain. Hip replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged femoral head with a metal implant, reshaping the hip socket to accommodate a metal shell with a plastic liner, and fitting the new joint together. The surgery itself normally only takes between 1 and 1.5 hours.

Anterior hip replacement is a procedure that has been gaining popularity over the past several years, as it takes a different approach than conventional hip replacement. In conventional hip replacement, certain muscles or tendons are cut in order to access the hip joint and perform the surgery. However, the anterior approach utilizes a muscle interval in front of the hip joint that goes in between the muscles and tendons, rather than cutting them to access the joint.

Anterior hip replacement surgery includes a shorter hospital stay, less pain after surgery, and a faster recovery. Advancements in hip replacement procedures are significantly improving quality of life for patients suffering from debilitating joint disease, and allowing them to return to normal activities within a few months or less. At present, hip replacements can last 25 years or more, and the technology is constantly being improved.

At most, patients normally leave the hospital two days after surgery and should be able to walk without assistance after two weeks of recovery. Patients can resume normal activity six weeks after surgery, although it is recommended that very high impact activities like running should be avoided.

Physician Background:

Dr. Brian Swinteck is an orthopedic surgeon at Greensboro Orthopaedics and a member of the Cone Health medical staff. Dr. Swinteck received a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Duke University in 2003 and he is a 2007 graduate of the Wake Forrest School of Medicine. He completed his residency at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 2012, and completed his Fellowship in Total Joint/Adult Reconstruction Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in 2013.

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