When is Hip Arthroplasty (Replacement) Needed?

When there is debilitating pain and deterioration in the hip, arthroplasty (replacement) may restore function and increase quality of life.

Helpful Highlights

  • Indications for hip replacement are many and related to pain and loss of function.

  • Hip surgery is considered when other, less invasive methods are failing to provide relief and restore function.

  • Note that many other health and history factors determine whether hip surgery is appropriate.

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When your loved one's quality of life suffers due to hip pain and limited function, it may be time for hip arthroplasty (replacement). Signs of declining quality of life include (but are not limited to):

  • Inability to get restful sleep because of pain

  • Difficulty doing simple tasks such as getting dressed or climbing stairs

  • Persistent back pain without explanation

  • Inability to participate in the activities they enjoy

At first, the provider may recommend other treatments such as medicine for pain or inflammation, walking aids, joint injections, and physical therapy. If these measures do not relieve the problems, hip replacement surgery may be necessary to restore function and improve quality of life. 

Indications for hip arthroplasty (replacement)

This surgery is usually performed on adults after other treatments have failed to help. A hip replacement may be needed because of:

  • Osteoarthritis - commonly known as wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis damages the slick cartilage that covers the ends of bones and helps joints move smoothly

  • Inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis) - caused by an overactive immune system, inflammatory arthritis erodes cartilage and occasionally underlying bone, resulting in damaged and deformed joints

  • Injuries, like a hip fracture or dislocation from a fall

  • Degenerative disease

  • Developmental hip dysplasia

  • An injury that didn’t heal right

  • Osteonecrosis (avascular necrosis) - when there isn't enough blood supply to the ball portion of the hip joint, such as might result from a dislocation or fracture, the bone collapses and deforms

  • Tumor in the hip joint

  • Childhood (congenital) hip disorders

Why hip arthroplasty (replacement)?

The primary goal of any orthopedic care is to relieve pain and restore function, to return someone to their active lifestyle. Nonsurgical treatments might be able to accomplish the desired results, though the provider will recommend surgery when other, less invasive methods have been exhausted (medicines, injections, physical therapy, weight loss, and assistive devices).

Hip arthroplasty is usually indicated in cases of severe damage or disease of the hip, whereby these other treatment options have failed to relieve pain and restore function.

Age, health history, other medical conditions, and the status of the hip joint itself also factor into whether hip replacement surgery is appropriate.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) – Total Hip Replacement

American Association of Hip & Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) – Total Hip Replacement

Johns Hopkins Medicine – Hip Replacement Surgery

Mayo Clinic – Hip Replacement

No content in this app, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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