What is a hip replacement?

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What is a hip replacement?

What is the Hip Joint?

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint that connects the pelvis to the thigh bone (femur). The ball-shaped head of the thigh bone fits into the socket-shaped cup (acetabulum) of the pelvis. This type of joint allows for a wide range of motion allowing us to rotate our legs and also move them forwards and backwards and side to side.

How the Hip Joint Works

The hip joint is surrounded by ligaments and muscles that provide stability and support. The muscles that surround it include the muscles of the buttocks (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, iliopsoas) and the muscles of the upper-front part of the leg (quadriceps). These work together to provide movement and strength. When you walk or run, your hip joint also acts as a shock absorber that helps distribute your weight evenly across your body. It also plays an important role in supporting your body weight when you stand or sit.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Hip pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:

  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis that affect the hip joint. These conditions can cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joint. Osteoarthritis is caused by general wear-and-tear that reduces the amount of protective cartilage and can lead to the thigh bone head to rub directly against the bone of the  pelvic socket. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition whereby a person’s immune system begins to attack joint tissue which causes inflammation and can lead to degradation. 
  • Bursitis: Bursitis is a condition that occurs when the small, fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion the hip joint become inflamed which may cause pain and tenderness.
  • Fractures: Fractures of the hip bone can occur due to trauma, such as a fall. These injuries can cause severe pain and may require surgery to repair
  • Tendinitis: Tendinitis is a condition that occurs when the tendons that attach muscles to bones become inflamed which results in pain.
  • Muscle Strain: Straining the muscles that support the hip joint can cause pain and stiffness in the hip. This is often caused by overuse or sudden movements.

Hip Replacement Operation

A hip replacement operation is a surgical procedure that involves replacing a damaged or worn hip joint with an artificial joint made of metal, ceramic or plastic. Patients can have an adverse reaction to the materials but a simple genetic test designed by ExplantLab can minimise this risk. The procedure is usually performed in cases where the patient has severe arthritis or a hip fracture that cannot be repaired.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the hip and removes the damaged joint. They then replace it with an artificial joint that is designed to mimic the movement of a natural healthy one. The surgery usually takes a few hours, and patients usually stay in the hospital for a few days afterwards.

Recovery from a hip replacement operation can take several weeks or months, depending on the patient's overall health and the extent of the surgery. Physical therapy is often recommended to help patients regain strength and mobility in the affected hip.

In summary, the hip joint is an important part of the human body that allows for a wide range of movement and support. Hip pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, and a hip replacement operation may be necessary in cases of severe damage or injury. With an artificial hip made of a suitable material, and proper treatment and rehabilitation, patients can often regain mobility and lead a pain-free life.