For younger patients with hip problems, hip resurfacing is a newer procedure that can help preserve most of the healthy bone. Total hip replacement is a surgery that removes all of the bone in the hip joint and replaces them with medical prosthetics. A total hip replacement is not always the best option for young patients as it can cause long-term concerns and may need replacement again later in life. Hip resurfacing may not be an option for every patient, but for people with much of their bone remaining, this can be a preferable option that can last for many years.
Hip Resurfacing vs. Total Hip Replacement
When a patient’s hip is failing, hip replacement or resurfacing surgery is often the last resort. As such, many of these patients are in a lot of pain and want their hips to function better and hurt less. There are other ways to treat hip pain, but if these do not work, there are surgeries that can help patients have a better quality of life and reduce their pain.
Total Hip Replacement
Put simply, total hip replacement completely replaces the hip joint. The femoral head, or ball of the femur is removed completely and a medical grade prosthetic is attached to the femur. This goes down into the actual center of the bone so it can be stable. The hip socket is bored out and a plated cup is added to the socket, to hold the prosthetic femoral head in place. This is very effective, but it is an invasive operation. Unfortunately, it can also take a long time to heal. It can also lead to complications after a number of years, and some people have to have their hips replaced again. In this case, it may be more complicated and difficult to have a secondary hip replacement. It sometimes leads to other issues like hip dislocations and leg length discrepancies, which can be frustrating and painful.
Conversely, hip resurfacing does not remove the entire femoral head of the hip joint. It has a plated cup that replaces the socket, just as total hip replacement does. This means that more of the original bone is preserved. It also means that the “ball” portion of the joint can be larger, which will make it less likely to dislocate in the future. Due to this method, many patients can keep this type of hip replacement for many years, because it isn’t replacing as much bone. Studies have shown that this kind of hip replacement can last much longer than traditional hip replacements, even over 10 and 15 years later! This also reduces many of the concerns with post-operative leg lengths discrepancy. And if at any point the patient may need a total hip replacement, this surgery does not reduce a patient’s eligibility for that operation.
Why Is This Important?
With a less invasive and more long-lasting alternative to total hip replacement, many young patients can have a pain free life without fearing many of the side effects of total hip replacement surgery. This is especially exciting for active patients, because they can exercise, run, and function on a normal level after hip resurfacing. It also takes less time to heal, and there are less restrictions. Unfortunately, not every person is a candidate for this surgery. For patients with more severe bone damage, hip resurfacing likely cannot work. The femoral bone must still be in good condition with little deterioration or deep decay for this surgery to be considered.
Candidates for Hip Resurfacing
The ideal candidate for hip resurfacing surgery is an active, young, adult male patient with very little bone decay. They may be looking into a hip replacement due to hip pain. Some causes of hip pain come from serious decay and degeneration, but in milder forms, the main bones can be preserved for hip resurfacing. Some of these conditions include:
This is a common condition also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). It is commonly caused by overactivity and intense wear and tear of the affected joint. It gets worse over time and can cause pain, infection, swelling, weakness, and decreased cartilage and bone. In young patients, this is commonly seen in athletes that have been injured playing sports.
This is a condition that is most often caused by excessive consumption of alcohol or the use of steroids, but it can happen due to injury and other chronic medical conditions. This is bone death, where the blood supply to the bone has been cut off, causing it to deteriorate.
Dysplasia indicates abnormal growth of cells, which could be cancerous or not. In the hip, this often occurs in the bone and causes the hip joint to pop out of place. The hip socket does not fully cover the femoral head of the leg bone. This can damage the other internal tissues and eventually cause tears and other issues in the joint.
Other injuries that could need hip resurfacing are traumatic injury to the hip bones, other forms of arthritis, and things like genetic conditions or chronic illness. There are many things that can cause a patient to be recommended for a hip replacement, but not all of them are candidates for hip resurfacing.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you are concerned about any of these conditions, talk to your doctor about your options for care. While not everyone is able to have this surgery, some people may not know that they could be eligible. Many of these conditions are degenerative, and if left alone, can get worse. If this occurs, you may miss your window of opportunity to have this alternative operation. Regardless of your condition, pain is not a normal occurrence. Joint pain is often a sign of something wrong, and should be checked by a doctor. It doesn’t hurt to find out if something could be damaged or injured, but it could hurt to wait on something serious. Make an appointment today!
Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.