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Hip Replacements Explained

When it comes to discussing surgery and orthopedics in the Fox Valley, terminology and procedures can become very confusing, especially for those unfamiliar with the specifics of human anatomy. Although procedures such as Mako robotic surgery may not sound like something that happens regularly in the area, they are quite common and are regularly performed around the world on individuals who suffer from excessive pain and decreased mobility as a result of damage to their hip joint. Thus, any discomfort in major joints such as the hip and knee should be assessed by an orthopedic knee doctor or other orthopedic specialist.

The earliest recorded attempt of a joint replacement surgery was in 1891 Germany. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that metal replacements began to be used. Nevertheless, the earliest recordings of such surgical attempts, indicate that sore joints have been a common ailment in aging adults for centuries. The following will seek to demystify hip replacements and their benefits as more adults seek treatment for hip pain and look to orthopedic surgeons for answers.

What is Hip Replacement Surgery?

A surgical procedure in which a damaged hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant referred to as a hip prosthesis. Depending on the severity of the damage to the original hip joint, orthopedic surgeons may choose to replace the entire joint, or only half of it. Consequently, the popular term for these surgeries is often misleading, as surgeons are not replacing the hip, but rather the joint within. Artificial joints are normally constructed using metal, ceramic or plastic and are highly successful at reducing pain and improving function within the hip.

Who Gets Hip Replacements?

Common in individuals over the age of 60, replacements are often used to treat joints damaged by osteoarthritis and hip fractures resulting from falls and osteoporosis. While there exist a number of reasons why someone may consider a joint replacement surgery, not everyone qualifies for this form of treatment, particularly as major surgeries carry an additional risk of complications.

Surgery performed by an orthopedic surgeon is thus a last line of defense for patients who have already sought help from physiotherapy and steroid injections to ease discomfort. Used in instances where individuals are in severe pain that seriously affects their quality of life, requirements for undergoing a major joint surgery normally include an in-depth assessment of the patient’s health and background in addition to verifying that they will be able to cope with rehabilitation afterwards.

What is Anterior Replacement?

A popular buzzword nowadays, anterior hip replacement surgery refers to a recent innovation in surgery and is considered an important advancement in hip pain management in the Fox Valley, from Green Bay to Appleton to Oshkosh. Minimally invasive, an anterior replacement procedure is performed through an incision at the front of the hip, rather than the back or side as done in conventional procedures. In an anterior approach, orthopedic surgeons are thus able to access the hip socket without having to cut through major muscle groups.

As a result of this innovative technique, patients who undergo surgery using the anterior approach report significant gains in their recovery time, less pain and improved mobility post-surgery.

What are the Risks?

As with any major surgery, joint replacements carry an increased risk of complications ranging from easily treatable infections to painful joint dislocation and even death. Although there are any number of risks associated with joint replacements, the following list comprises the five most common and their treatments.

  • Infection – occurring at the site of the incision and with the hip’s tissue. Often treated using antibiotics, but can in extreme conditions require additional surgery to remove.
  • Dislocation – new joints may become dislodged as they adjust and settle into the body. Using a brace can help, however joints that continue to dislocate may require further surgery to correct.
  • Uneven Limbs – the new joint may cause the muscles surrounding it to contract, causing one leg to be shorter than the other. Normally treated with physiotherapy.
  • Loosening – the new joint may loosen over time, causing discomfort. In extreme causes loosening can require further surgery.
  • More surgery – average artificial joints are designed to last anywhere from 15-25 years. Consequently, patients who receive their replacements early on in life may require additional operations as their implants wear out.


With advancements in surgery like the innovation of the anterior method, recovering from major joint surgery is easier than ever before. After surgery, patients may be at increased risk of blood clots in their legs and will likely be advised to take precautions such as walking, pressure application and blood-thinning medications.

Patients who have completed their surgery should follow the advice of their physicians to ensure a smooth recovery and may even require temporary modifications to their home and assistance from friends and relatives while they get back on their feet.

Physical therapy may be recommended to accelerate recovery times while light physical activity and exercise can help strengthen joints and muscles. Patients may initially require the help of a walking aid but should eventually return to being able to walk without assistance. Several weeks after surgery, a follow up examination with an orthopedic surgeon will assess how well the hip is healing and may recommend further therapy.

A major surgery that nevertheless boasts excellent rates of success, joint surgeries performed by an orthopedic knee doctor has been proven to improve mobility and the range of motion in the joint. Although joint replacements will not return aging adults to the glory of their youth, they can greatly enhance the quality of life and overall comfort. Following surgery, patients should avoid high-impact activities that may place too much stress on their new joint such as running. However, with time and physical therapy, most individuals who undergo advanced procedures such as Mako robotic surgery will find themselves able to swim, hike, and even cycle comfortably.

When You Are Ready

Request a consultation with one of the hip specialists at the Orthopedic & Sports Institute. Call (920) 560-1000 or request an appointment online. OSI offers anteriorposterior, and robotic surgical options for the treatment of hip pain. Do your homework, talk to friends and family members, neighbors and colleagues to identify the procedure that is right for you.

OSI has convenient locations to serve you. The campus in Appleton includes clinics, a surgery center, MRI, physical therapy, and a skilled nursing facility, as well as a walk-in clinic that provides care for new orthopedic injuries. OSI has outreach clinics in Green Bay, New London, Ripon, Shawano, Waupaca, and the newest location at 600 N. Koeller Street in Oshkosh.

OSI is a proud member of NOVO Health.