Arthritis Home > Hip Replacement

A common surgery, hip replacement is a procedure that is performed to improve the function of the hip joint. During this surgery, an artificial joint is used to replace the affected hip. This surgery may be recommended if a person has a worn-out hip, which is usually due to hip arthritis. Most doctors try non-surgical methods first, such as medications or physical therapy, before recommending this procedure.

What Is Hip Replacement?

Total hip replacement, also called total hip arthroplasty, is a surgery that is performed over 100,000 times each year.
A hip replacement is performed to replace an arthritic hip with an artificial hip joint. Hip arthritis is the result of gradual wear and tear on your hip joint from various activities. It is a progressive disease that eventually causes pain and disability.

Understanding the Hip

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint formed by the pelvis and the femur, or thighbone. The ball is at the top end of the thighbone, and the socket is a cup-shaped area on the outside of the pelvis.
Both surfaces of contact are lined with smooth cartilage that keeps the hard bones from rubbing directly on one another. This allows for smooth, low-friction motion.
The hip joint is held together by several structures. The first is the joint capsule that surrounds the joint. This capsule is tissue that attaches to each side of the joint and helps keep lubricating fluid inside the joint. There are also strong ligaments, or bands of fibers, outside the joint that provide stability and that help prevent dislocation of the hip. Lastly, numerous muscles provide a wide range of motion and also help keep the hip stable.
The hip can be subjected to force that is three to nine times your body weight, depending on the activity. The parts of the hip that help withstand this force include cartilage at the ends of the bones and the lubricating fluid in the joint capsule.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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