The natural hip joint is a ball and socket joint which, with time, may wear out. When this happens the joint becomes steadily more painful and eventually a hip replacement is the only way to get rid of the pain and improve your quality of life.
What is a hip replacement?
The aim of a hip replacement is to replace the worn out joint surfaces with new artificial surfaces. There are many different types of hip replacement available.
The traditional type of replacement, which has been in use for many years, is a metal ball on a stem cemented into the femur (thigh) and a plastic socket cemented into the pelvis. This is still the most commonly used type of hip. In the older patient it is highly unlikely that it would need to be replaced within their lifetime.
If you are a younger, more active patient your specialist may have advised you that a hip replacement without using cement or with harder bearing surfaces such as metal-on-metal or ceramic-on-ceramic may be more appropriate.
Alternatively, your specialist may have advised a type of replacement known as hip resurfacing. In this operation, instead of the ball part of the hip joint being removed (as in a standard hip replacement), it is cut to shape and a new metal surface cemented on. The socket also has a metal surface and is fixed into the pelvis without using cement.
Ask your specialist about what hip replacement they recommend and what the advantages and disadvantages of it are.