The hip is the largest joint in the body. It allows for a wide range of movement as well as supporting the weight of the body. It is a complex joint made up of the femur and the acetabulum which fit together in a ball and socket joint. The ball is the femoral head, which is the upper end of the femur. The socket is formed by the acetabulum. The surfaces of the ball and socket are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth tissue that cushions the ends of the bones and enables them to move easily.
A thin tissue called synovial membrane surrounds the hip joint. In a healthy functioning hip this membrane makes a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage and eliminates almost all friction during hip movement. Problems and hip pain occur when the joint surface wears out causing the bone ends to rub painfully on each other.
The most common result of the joint surface wearing out is arthritis. This is an umbrella term which covers numerous conditions that occur when the joint surface wears out. Hip Arthroplasty or hip replacement is one of the most effective operations known to fix this problem and involves the articular part of the hip joint being replaced with an artificial joint. The aim is to take away pain, restore function, preserve anatomy and improve quality of life. Hip Arthroplasty surgery is designed to give you many years of freedom from pain.
Hip replacement surgery can be performed as a Total Hip Replacement (THR) or a hemi (half) arthroplasty. A Total Hip Replacement consists of replacing both the femoral head and the hip socket (acetabulum) with a prosthetic device. In a hemi-arthroplasty either the femoral head or the hip socket is replaced with a prosthetic device.
For more information about the surgical procedure please see Hip Replacement Technique.