6850 W. Centennial Drive, Tinley Park, IL 60477
Phone (708) 429-3455 /  Fax (708) 429-3422

Specialties: Hip Osteoarthritis

How does arthritis destroy the hip?

The top of the femur (thighbone) and the pelvis form the hip joint. It is a ball and socket joint with the top of the femur forming the ball while the pelvis contains the socket. They are covered with a thin, smooth, glistening material called hyaline cartilage. It is the knee hyaline and meniscal cartilage that cushion the joint and absorb shock. Normally, this cartilage is lubricated by a few drops of specialized joint fluid. The arthritic joint may produce increased amounts of fluid. Cartilage has poor healing capabilities and once it is damaged it no longer provides cushioning. As it wears away, bone becomes exposed. Bone surfaces rubbing against each other can cause significant pain.

How do we treat arthritis without surgery?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis. Procedures such as cartilage transplant are not indicated for the person with a degenerative knee. They are generally used on the young athlete that has a small injury to their articular cartilage. Our initial approach is the alleviation of symptoms with conservative measures (oral medications, injections, activity modifications). Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS, Advil, Aleve, Celebrex, Vioxx) have all about the same effectiveness and only improve symptoms- they do not change the progression of the arthritis. Occasionally we will recommend an injection of an anti-inflammatory steroid into the hip joint. These injections are generally safe and well tolerated and may be repeated every three months if found effective (3-4 times a year).

One may also control arthritis with activity modification. You can think that a degenerative hip is like having a tire with 50,000 miles of tread on it. One should continue to maintain a fit lifestyle, but an effort should be made to perform more unweighted activities. The best activity for your hip is to perform pool aerobics. The next best activities are a stationary bike, recumbent bike and elliptical trainer. Walking and treadmill machines are better than running. One should save the higher impact activities for things one really enjoys doing.

When should I have surgery?

The main indication for total hip replacement is arthritis of the hip accompanied by considerable pain and loss of function that does not respond to conservative treatment. The decision to proceed with surgery is ultimately up to the patient. Arthritis of the hip is not a malignant condition and is not life threatening. Quality of life is the main consideration. When you feel that you are living your life around your hip and your symptoms prevent you from living your life the way you wish, consideration to a hip replacement should be given.

What is a total hip replacement?

A total hip replacement consists of three pieces. These are made of rugged polyethylene (high density plastic) and alloy metals. A newer design utilizes ceramics and may prove to be longer lasting than previous designs. The pieces consist of a femoral component that replaces the “ball” at the top of the thigh bone and an acetabular component the replaces the “socket” in the pelvis. Plastic or ceramic then forms the surface between the components.

How long do they last?

Design changes have occurred in recent years and current prostheses have been improved in an effort to yield better function and longevity. Since the prostheses now being used are of newer designs we do not exactly know how long they will last. Most studies have found that at 10 years > 90% of all hip replacements are functioning well.

A well-implanted prosthesis, in a compliant patient, usually lasts for many years. Strenuous use and obesity have the potential to shorten the life of the implant. It should be emphasized that total hip replacements are not done to allow the patients to return to unlimited activities. Fitness may be maintained by "low impact" sports such as swimming or bicycling. Golfing and bowling are usually possible, and even moderate skiing in some individuals. Jogging is not recommended. Doubles tennis is preferred to singles.

What is the hospital stay like?

You will be admitted the day of surgery and remain hospitalized for approximately 3 days. We will begin your therapy the day of your surgery and emphasize walking, regaining your range of motion and strengthening exercises. The quicker we can get you home, the better off you will be.

Transfusions are occasionally needed during or after surgery. If you do require blood from the blood bank we reassure you that it is safe. There is less than a 1 in 1.7 million chance that you would receive a blood product with the HIV virus.
Your pain is controlled with injections and later by pain pills. Your discomfort should significantly decrease by the third day and only require pain pills before performing therapy. After all major orthopedic surgeries, the patient is at risk of developing a blood clot. Occasionally, a blood clot can break free from their location in the leg veins and travel via the blood stream to the lungs, causing serious complications and even death. We can significantly decrease this risk by placing you on a blood thinner for approximately 6 weeks. This will require regular blood checks to determine the proper dosage of the medication.

What are potential complications?

The most common complications after a hip replacement are infection and blood clots. We can lower the risk of infection to less than 1% by using special operative suites, meticulous operative technique, and antibiotics before surgery and for 48 hours after surgery.

We significantly lower the risk of blood clots by placing you on a blood thinner for approximately 6 weeks. If you develop significant leg swelling or shortness of breath, you need to seek immediate medical attention to evaluate for a blood clot or embolus.

Other complications include: dislocation of the components, premature loosening, fractures around the components, damage to nerves or arteries during surgery, and anesthesia risks. We emphasize that these risks are rare and feel that the potential benefits from a hip replacement far outweigh the potential risks. We take significant precautions to lower these risks.

What should I expect after surgery?

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Last Modified: June 24, 2014