Pain in the hip joints can make every step a grueling process, and if your joints aren’t responding well to conservative care, you may think that a joint replacement operation is your only option. For the right patient, they may benefit from a less invasive operation known as hip joint resurfacing. In today’s blog, we examine the differences between hip resurfacing and hip replacement and explain which procedure may be right for your.
What Is Hip Resurfacing?
Hip resurfacing is a minimally invasive surgical procedure aimed at reducing pain caused by arthritic conditions in the hip joint. During the procedure, the surgeon trims away damaged bone and cartilage in the area that is contributing to friction, inflammation and pain. Then, a smooth metal cap is placed on top of the trimmed thighbone, and a metal shell goes into the hip socket, allowing for more fluid motion in the joint. Almost all of your bone in your hip and thigh remains after a hip resurfacing procedure, whereas artificial components replace a lot of arthritic bone during a total hip replacement.
So if resurfacing is minimally invasive and can prevent pain, why wouldn’t everyone opt for the resurfacing that preserves more natural bone instead of going with total joint replacement? Because hip resurfacing yields much better results when it’s performed on younger, healthier bones.
This may sound a bit oxymoronic, because why would someone with healthy bones need to undergo a hip resurfacing or replacement operation? It’s important to remember that age-related degeneration isn’t the only way arthritis develops. Arthritis can develop in the wake of a severe injury or trauma to the area, so many otherwise younger, healthy adults could need hip treatment after a leg fracture or car accident that damaged the area.
Women, who also tend to be more likely to suffer from bone loss conditions like osteoporosis, are also less likely to be an ideal candidate for hip resurfacing. That’s not to say they are disqualified from the start, but the average hip resurfacing candidate is a younger male with healthy bones in his early 50s. Hip replacement is very successful for a larger and older group, whereas resurfacing tends to be optimal for a more select group.
Hip Resurfacing Vs. Replacement
One of the biggest reasons why you may not have heard much about resurfacing compared to hip replacement is that the replacement procedure tends to yield such positive results. While it is a heavier undertaking for the patient, it has high rates of success in older individuals with weaker bones. Older patients with weaker bones are much more likely to deal with post-op complications after a resurfacing procedure, which is why most of the focus tends to be on the replacement procedure. With that said, for the right patient, both procedures offer some unique benefits:
- Hip Resurfacing – Less invasive, quicker recovery, improved hip flexibility, reduced risk of hip dislocation, more likely to have equal leg lengths and an easier recovery period are benefits of resurfacing compared to a replacement operation.
- Hip Replacement – Appeals to a wider range of patients with advanced bone degeneration, can still be performed with minimally invasive techniques, reduced likelihood of complications and a reduced likelihood of eventual secondary hip procedure are all benefits of replacement compared to a resurfacing operation.
For more information about either technique, or to talk to a hip specialist about your joint pain, reach out to Dr. Botero and his team today.