Like with any joint in the body, the hip can be damaged due to injury, overuse, or disease. One of the treatments available for conditions affecting the hip joint is hip resurfacing surgery.
In this article, we go into detail about the procedure and how long the recovery period takes. Whether you're considering hip resurfacing or simply curious about the treatment options for hip joint conditions, you will find valuable insights in this article.
An Overview of the Hip Joint
To better understand hip resurfacing surgery, knowing a bit more about the hip joint is helpful.
The hip joint connects the legs and the torso. The thigh bone or the femur has a rounded top, called the femoral head, that fits into and moves within the socket in the pelvis called the acetabulum. The acetabulum is covered in cartilage, which helps facilitate smooth movement and absorbs impact when walking, running, or moving.
The hip joint helps the upper body balance and provides it with support and stability. It also holds a person's body weight and allows three degrees of movement in the upper legs so you can do several motions with your legs, such as extending them and rotating them.
However, if the hip joint becomes damaged due to disease, overuse or injury, the femoral head may rub and scrape against the acetabulum instead of smoothly moving within it. This then typically results in pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. Treatment is often necessary to address these symptoms and restore the hip's function.
One of the treatments a care provider may recommend for a significantly damaged hip joint is hip resurfacing.
What Is Hip Resurfacing Treatment?
Hip resurfacing is a type of surgery to relieve pain and reduce stiffness caused by a damaged hip joint. This conservative approach to repairing hip joints was developed as an alternative to total hip replacement (THR) surgery.
The surgeon makes a small incision in the thigh to access the hip joint during the procedure. They then trim damaged bone and cartilage from the femoral head and acetabulum. Afterward, the surgeon uses surgical cement to place a smooth metal cap on the femoral head.
Additionally, they put a metal shell into the socket. These metal prostheses or implants allow the femoral head and acetabulum to move smoothly together without pain or stiffness. The surgeon then stitches the incision closed.
Hip resurfacing treatment preserves more of the patient's natural bone than total hip replacement. This benefit is significant for young patients, as it is likely that they will need another hip replacement surgery or revision during their lifetime. This is because implants can wear out or loosen over time. The more natural bone that remains during a hip operation revision, the more likely it is to be successful.
Other advantages of hip resurfacing over traditional THR include the ability to implant a larger ball size. This allows for greater stability and helps reduce the risk of hip dislocation.
Additionally, several studies suggest that more patients who have had hip resurfacing were able to return to physical activities, such as high-impact running and manual labor, compared to those who have had THR.
How Long Does Hip Resurfacing Take?
While the amount of time hip resurfacing takes varies, the operation lasts from one and a half to three hours. However, you may need to be at the hospital or clinic much earlier, as your doctor will need to discuss the procedure with you.
You will also need to be anesthetized and prepped for surgery. In post-operative visits, you would have already discussed your anesthesia choices with your care provider. For hip resurfacing, it can be either:
- General - You are asleep.
- Regional - You are awake, but your body is numb from the waist down.
How Long Does Recovery From Hip Resurfacing Take?
Most patients are discharged one to four days after surgery.
Additionally, most patients can stand immediately after the procedure. However, this still depends on the surgeon's recommendations as well as the strength of the hip joint. During recovery, you may need to use a walking assistive device, such as a cane, until you feel comfortable enough to walk unaided.
You may experience minimal pain and discomfort for several weeks after hip resurfacing treatment. For this reason, your care provider may prescribe pain medication such as:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Local anesthetics
Be sure to take your pain medication exactly as prescribed by your physician. Some prescription drugs, such as opioids, are highly addictive and should not be taken for longer than prescribed. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy will help restore your strength and maintain the range of motion of your hip joint.
Generally, the recovery period for hip resurfacing surgery is about six weeks. At the end of this time, patients will likely be able to return to their normal daily activities. Return to sports and strenuous physical activity may require 3 to 6 months of physical therapy. Athletes and other individuals planning to do high level physical activity must clear this with their doctors first.
Who Needs Hip Resurfacing?
Hip resurfacing may be recommended to treat pain and stiffness caused by various conditions and injuries, including but not limited to the following:
- Osteoarthritis: Also called "wear-and-tear" arthritis, this condition occurs when the cartilage that cushions the hip joint gradually wears away.
- Post-traumatic arthritis: This is a type of osteoarthritis that occurs after an injury or direct trauma causes damage to the joint.
- Avascular necrosis of the hip (AVN): In this condition, blood supply to the femoral head is interrupted. This causes bone death and collapse.
- Hip dysplasia: This is the term for an acetabulum that is too shallow or does not fully cover the femoral head.
Hip Resurfacing at American Hip Institute
Whether you are experiencing hip pain and need treatment or have already been seen by a specialist but want a second opinion, you can rely on the American Hip Institute for personalized care and tailored treatment plans. Our surgeons are highly trained and extensively experienced, having performed more than 10,000 hip surgeries combined.
Patients worldwide come to AHI for treatments like hip resurfacing, hip arthroscopy, and robotic hip replacement. We take pride not just in our proficiency in advanced hip care techniques but also in our dedication to elevating the patient experience for everyone who gets treated at our clinic.
To book an appointment, please fill out our online form. One of our team will reach out to you as soon as possible. You may also call us at (833) 872-4477.