When people talk about prosthetics, they most often refer to the visible prosthetics like prosthetic legs or arms. However, internal prosthetics are just as useful and effective. An example of this is a hip prosthesis, which replaces the hip joint partially or completely. There are several reasons why a hip prosthesis may be recommended to a patient, and these can truly make a difference in many patients’ lives.
Why A Hip Prosthesis?
Hip problems are very difficult to live with. You use your hip muscles and joints every day for almost every bodily function. Sitting, standing, walking, bending down, and many other tasks require the use of your hips. When your hip becomes damaged, many of these everyday activities become painful and more difficult. Some patients find these tasks impossible. Sometimes patients break their hips during a fall or injure them in a car accident. The causes of hip issues vary greatly, but each patient with hip problems seeks relief and the ability to function normally again. Some people can find that relief and treatment through less invasive options like physical therapy, medications, steroid injections, and more. However, those with more severe problems may need surgery.
Types of Hip Prosthesis
There are several different hip surgeries that utilize hip prosthesis to help a patient regain hip function. These surgeries use different kinds of prosthesis that each benefit the patient in different ways.
A common hip surgery for younger patients is called hip resurfacing or Birmingham hip resurfacing (BHR). This is a more conservative approach to hip replacement. In a hip resurfacing procedure, the joint is much more preserved. This surgery works best for patients who have minimal bone degeneration. The surgeon drills a hole through the “ball” or head of the femur, down through the more vulnerable and thin portion. The head of the femur is shaved down but remains intact. The hip prosthesis has a strong metal bar that goes into the hole and it also has a large spherical part that protects the outside of the femoral head. The other part of the prosthesis is a cup that holds the new head in place. This makes up a new hip joint for the patient. This design, when usable, is very effective and helps preserve the original bone, while still strengthening the problematic areas. After recovery, patients with this prosthetic are still able to do almost everything they could do before. This technique is very effective, but it isn’t available for every patient.
Partial Hip Replacement
A partial hip replacement uses a different kind of hip prosthesis that replaces only the “ball” portion of the hip joint. This is most often used when a patient has a healthy socket (called the acetabulum) portion of the joint. This usually occurs as a result of injury, where if a patient breaks the femoral head in an accident, if the bone has chipped, or if the femoral head is misshapen. In this surgery, the femoral head is completely removed, and the femur is hollowed out to place the prosthetic inside. This one piece reaches down into the femur to create more stability for the joint. Then the prosthetic is inserted into the natural socket of the hip. This kind of hip prosthesis comes in several different models which have varying shapes or materials.
Total Hip Replacement
Also known as hip arthroplasty, total hip replacement is one of the most common hip surgeries. The hip prosthesis used in total hip replacement can vary as well, but the main reason why this surgery is different is that the prosthetic replaces both the entire femoral head and the socket portion of the joint. This surgery also stands out because it can help patients who have very serious hip problems including osteoarthritis, hip necrosis, and fractures. While this can have a more difficult recovery time, it is often a huge improvement for the patients who experience very serious hip problems. This hip prosthetic does have to be treated with a bit more care, as the joint is completely replaced. This means that these patients may not be able to perform high-impact activities, but they can remain generally active and enjoy a wonderful quality of life. Many of the patients who receive total hip replacements are elderly, but anyone at any age or life stage may need a total hip replacement. This surgery is truly life-changing.
While hip prosthetics may be different, they are all catered to the patient and their specific circumstance. The long-term benefits of these prosthetics can truly help patients to have a greater quality of life with less pain and more enjoyment!