Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure used to alleviate the pain and decreased joint function of severe hip arthritis.


Whether you have just begun exploring treatment options or have already decided to undergo hip replacement surgery, this information will help you understand the benefits and limitations of total hip replacement. This article describes how a normal hip works, the causes of hip pain, what to expect from hip replacement surgery, and what exercises and activities will help restore your mobility and strength, and enable you to return to everyday activities.

If your hip has been damaged by arthritis, a fracture, or other conditions, common activities such as walking or getting in and out of a chair may be painful and difficult. Your hip may be stiff, and it may be hard to put on your shoes and socks. You may even feel uncomfortable while resting.

If medications, changes in your everyday activities, and the use of walking supports do not adequately help your symptoms, you may consider hip replacement surgery. Hip replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure that can relieve your pain, increase motion, and help you get back to enjoying normal, everyday activities.

Hip replacement surgery is one of the most successful operations in all of medicine. Since the early 1960s, improvements in joint replacement surgical techniques and technology have greatly increased the effectiveness of total hip replacement. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 450,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States.

  • Hip Arthritis Treatment
  • Hip Replacement Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement

Symptoms of Arthritis of the Hip

Patients suffering from hip pain will experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Constant dull aching pain, even while sitting
  • Sharp pain during movement, such as walking
  • Decrease in joint range of motion
  • Weakening of the joint from decreased use

During the early stages of arthritis, many patients are able to control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease with pain medications, rest, and physical therapy. Before starting a treatment regimen, it is important to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to determine the exact cause of pain. As arthritis progresses it will often result in extensive bone damage and typically will require surgery to correct.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

The most common cause of chronic hip pain and disability is arthritis. Although there are many types of arthritis, most hip pain is caused by just three types: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.

  • Osteoarthritis. This is an age-related “wear and tear” type of arthritis. It usually occurs in people 50 years of age and older, but may occur in younger people, too. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the hip softens and wears away. The bones then rub against one another, causing hip pain and stiffness.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a disease in which the synovial membrane that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and thickened. This chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage and eventually cause cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of a group of disorders termed “inflammatory arthritis.”
  • Post-traumatic arthritis. This can follow a serious hip injury. Fractures of the bones surrounding the hip or tears of the hip ligaments may damage the articular cartilage over time, causing hip pain and limiting hip function

What is a Hip Replacement?

Dr. O’Keefe will often recommend total hip replacement surgery to patients suffering from severe osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, who are unable to relieve pain symptoms with more conservative treatments, or who have a minimal range of motion. Dr. O’Keefe utilizes minimally invasive techniques to accomplish this.

  • The damaged femoral head is removed and replaced with a metal stem that is placed into the hollow center of the femur. The femoral stem may be either cemented or “press fit” into the bone.
  • A metal or ceramic ball is placed on the upper part of the stem. This ball replaces the damaged femoral head that was removed.
  • The damaged cartilage surface of the socket (acetabulum) is removed and replaced with a metal socket. Screws or cement are sometimes used to hold the socket in place.
  • A plastic, ceramic, or metal spacer is inserted between the new ball and the socket to allow for a smooth gliding surface

Is Surgery Right for You?

The decision to have total hip replacement surgery should be a cooperative one between you, your family, your primary care doctor, and your orthopedic surgeon. Your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for a thorough evaluation to determine if you might benefit from this surgery.

When Surgery Is Recommended
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend hip replacement surgery. People who benefit from total hip replacement often have:

  • Severe hip pain or stiffness that limits everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs.  It may be hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain and it may be necessary to use a cane or walker
  • Moderate or severe hip pain while resting, either day or night
  • Chronic hip inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications
  • Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries

Recommendations for surgery are based on a patient’s pain and disability, not age. Most patients who undergo total hip replacement are age 50 to 80, but orthopedic surgeons evaluate patients individually. Total hip replacements have been performed successfully at all ages, from the young teenager with juvenile arthritis to the elderly patient with degenerative arthritis.

Minimally Invasive Approach to Hip Replacement

Dr. O’Keefe has fully embraced minimally invasive surgery. Dr. O’Keefe may utilize the Direct Anterior Approach for patients who are candidates for that procedure. Regardless of the approach, Dr. O’Keefe individualizes treatment to the best procedure for each patient to improve function. Recent innovations in hip replacement surgery allow for much quicker recoveries than the surgeries of the past. Most typically patients bear full weight the day of surgery. Furthermore, advancements have provided for much less post-operative pain and quicker return of normal function including work and sports.

Outpatient Hip Replacement (EXCEL Program)

For healthy patients, outpatient hip replacement is a great option. At Twin Cities Orthopedics this is part of the EXCEL program. Patients undergo concierge type treatment at one of Twin Cities Orthopedics state of the art ambulatory surgery centers with onsite care suites. Despite being called “outpatient” hip replacement, patients typically stay overnight in their care suite and receive personalized treatment with their own physical therapist and nurse. Patients are discharged home the following morning and are seen back in the clinic in 2 weeks. A wonderful advancement in the field of orthopedics.

Hip Replacement Surgery in Minneapolis

Specializing in total joint replacement, Dr. Patrick O’Keefe is committed to excellence by pledging to provide the highest quality of orthopedic care possible. Using the most innovative, cutting-edge technology, Dr. O’Keefe provides the most current treatments available for hip pain. To make an appointment with Dr. O’Keefe please call our Minnesota office at (763) 441-0298.