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The Procedure

Until just recently, your orthopedist would likely be recommending total hip replacement surgery at this point of your disease state. While it is clearly a more bone-sacrificing procedure than hip resurfacing, total hip replacement is a safe and effective surgery, and is performed more than 300,000 times per year in the United States.

As you may know, total hip replacement requires the removal of the femoral head and the insertion of a hip stem down the shaft of the femur. Hip resurfacing, on the other hand, preserves the femoral head and the femoral neck. During the procedure, your surgeon will only remove a few centimeters of bone around the femoral head, shaping it to fit tightly inside the BIRMINGHAM HIP Resurfacing implant.

Your surgeon will also prepare the acetabulum for the metal cup that will form the socket portion of the ball-and-socket joint. While the resurfacing component slides over the top of the femoral head like a tooth cap, the acetabular component is pressed into place much like a total hip replacement component would be.

Non-Surgical Alternatives To Hip Resurfacing

Before deciding on hip resurfacing, your physician may try several non-surgical, conservative measures to relieve the pain and inflammation in your hip.

Lifestyle Modification

The first alternative to hip replacement involves such lifestyle modification measures as weight loss, avoiding activities involving long periods of standing or walking, and the use of a cane to decrease the stress on the painful hip.

Exercise and Physical Therapy

Exercise and physical therapy may be prescribed to improve the strength and flexibility of your hip and other lower extremity muscles. Your exercise program may include riding a stationary bike, light weight training and flexibility exercises. An aquatic therapy program is especially effective for the treatment of arthritis since it allows mild resistance while removing weight bearing stresses. For an appropriate exercise program, contact an experienced physical therapist.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

Arthritis pain is primarily caused by inflammation in the hip joint. Reducing the inflammation of the tissue in the hip can provide temporary relief from pain and may delay surgery.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to decrease the inflammation associated with arthritis. A new classification of NSAIDs, called Cox-2 inhibitors, are often very effective in decreasing pain.

In a small number of cases, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, such as prednisone or cortisone, if NSAIDs are not effective. However, due to the higher rate of side effects associated with corticosteriods, a physician must closely monitor their use.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin

Two dietary supplements, Glucosamine and Chondroitin (commonly available in a combined tablet), may decrease the symptoms of hip arthritis. Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate are both naturally occurring molecules, and issues associated with both remain under active research. However, it appears that many people taking these nutrition supplements on a regular basis note a decrease in their arthritis symptoms.

There exist a number of non-surgical alternatives to total hip replacement surgery. Such measures as lifestyle modification, exercise and physical therapy, and medication should be implemented before deciding on surgery. If all of these measures have been exhausted and your orthopedist recommends surgical intervention, BIRMINGHAM HIP Resurfacing can be very successful in decreasing pain and greatly improving function.

Diseases Of The Hip

There are four primary diseases of the hip that may indicate the need for BIRMINGHAM HIP Resurfacing.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the hip is a disease which wears away the cartilage between the femoral head and the acetabulum, eventually causing the two bones to scrape against each other, raw bone on raw bone. When this happens, the joint becomes pitted, eroded and uneven. The result is pain, stiffness and instability, and in some cases, motion of the leg may be greatly restricted.

Patients with osteoarthritis often develop large bone spurs, or osteophytes, around the joint, further limiting motion.

Osteoarthritis is a common, degenerative disease, and although it most often occurs in patients over the age of 50, it can occur at any age, especially if the joint is in some way damaged.

Causes

Osteoarthritis of the hip is a condition commonly referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. Although the degenerative process may accelerate in persons with a previous hip injury, many cases of osteoarthritis occur when the hip simply wears out. Some experts believe there may exist a genetic predisposition in people who develop osteoarthritis of the hip. Abnormalities of the hip due to previous fractures or childhood disorders may also lead to a degenerative hip. Osteoarthritis of the hip is the most common cause for both total hip replacement and hip resurfacing.

Symptoms

The first and most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the hip or groin area during weight bearing activities such as walking. People with hip pain usually compensate by limping, or reducing the force on the arthritic hip. As a result of the cartilage degeneration, the hip loses its flexibility and strength, and may lead to the formation of bone spurs. Finally, as the condition worsens, the pain may be present all the time, even during non weight-bearing activities.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unlike osteoarthritis, which is a “wear and tear” phenomenon, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that results in joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The disease process leads to severe, and at times rapid, deterioration of multiple joints, resulting in severe pain and loss of function.

Causes

Although the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, some experts believe that a virus or bacteria may trigger the disease in people having a genetic predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis. Many doctors think rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the synovial tissue of the joint is attacked by one’s own immune system. The onset of rheumatoid arthritis occurs most frequently in middle age and is more common among women.

Symptoms

The primary symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are similar to osteoarthritis and include pain, swelling and the loss of motion. In addition, other symptoms may include loss of appetite, fever, energy loss, anemia, and rheumatoid nodules (lumps of tissue under the skin). People suffering with rheumatoid arthritis commonly have periods of exacerbation or “flare ups” where multiple joints may be painful and stiff.

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip

Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), also called hip dysplasia, is a lifelong condition, shared by one in 1,000 people. Because DDH patients are born with an altered hip anatomy, the joint doesn’t develop the normal wear patterns over the years. This leads to “wear and tear” arthritis at a relatively early age.

Causes

The most significant risk factor for DDH is a family history of the disorder. Women have a higher rate of DDH, as do first-born children and babies delivered breech.

Diagnosis

Developmental dysplasia of the hip often can be diagnosed in the first year of life.

Symptoms include diminished leg movement in the affected hip, shortening of the leg on the affected side, or asymmetry in leg positions. One or both hips may have DDH.

Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis (AVN) of the hip results when poor blood circulation starves the bones that form the hip joint. In time, the starved bone dies, and the hip joint collapses.

AVN, sometimes called hip osteonecrosis, is most prevalent in younger or middle-aged adults.

Causes

Alcoholism and corticosteroids are by far the leading causes of AVN. In rarer cases, AVN can result from a blockage in blood vessels from sickle cell anemia or fat particles, or from dislocation of the hip due to trauma.

Symptoms

Hip pain, especially after standing or walking, is the most common symptom. Hip AVN most commonly afflicts the femoral head, where the femur (or thighbone) attaches to the pelvis (or hip bone). The femoral head may weaken and collapse.