Over time, cartilage in the hip can wear away or become damaged, causing the bones to rub and grind together. This causes much of the pain and stiffness patients feel. Although people frequently associate joint pain with an injury or fracture to the hip, other common causes of a damaged hip include:

  • Breakdown of the joint's cartilage (osteoarthritis)
  • Cartilage injuries
  • Decay of the bone from long-term use of alcohol or steroids (necrosis)
  • Hip impingement
  • Inflamed and stiff cartilages (rheumatoid arthritis or gout)
  • Labral tears, soft tissue around the joint
  • Loose bodies in the joint

Many hip problems can be managed with physical therapy and rehabilitation; however, depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend surgery or a replacement. 

People who suffer hip pain or experience decreased mobility may benefit from arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure.  When other conservative measures to relieve pain have not been effective, talk with your surgeon to see if you are a candidate.

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Hip Replacement

Various approaches can be used in hip replacement surgery, including anterior and posterior techniques. Both of these can be done through minimally invasive surgery. 

  • Anterior Hip Replacement

In an anterior hip replacement, the surgeon reaches the hip joint from the front of the hip, which means no muscle needs to be detached. This minimally invasive surgery allows for easier recovery and rapid return to normal functions. Anterior hip replacement allows patients to immediately bend their hip freely and bear full weight when comfortable.

  • Hip Resurfacing

MedStar Health now offers a new treatment for hip arthritis in younger patients that has been proven successful around the world. When younger patients are faced with severe hip pain due to arthritis, dysplasia, or avascular necrosis, they have an option that may be more successful than a total hip replacement: the bone-conserving Birmingham Hip Resurfacing system.

In this procedure, surgeons clean away the damaged surfaces on the affected hip bones instead of completely removing the hip components. The damaged surfaces are replaced with highly durable material that actually helps strengthen the hip joint, allowing bone to grow around it.

Compared with total hip replacement, hip resurfacing offers many benefits for patients younger than 60 who would like to remain active, including

  • Greater post-operative stability, which is a key component of hip surgery as it dramatically decreases the chance of dislocation.
  • The materials used to create the Birmingham Hip are designed to reduce joint wear.
  • This procedure allows surgeons to conserve more of the patient's bone, which makes concerns about leg length discrepancy virtually non-existent.
  • Because the femoral head and neck are preserved by the hip resurfacing technique, a patient can still have a total hip replacement in the future, if necessary.
  • After a solid year of recovery, patients are able to return to their favorite activities, such as jogging or singles tennis—unlikely feats with a total hip replacement.


The recovery process from total hip replacement will take time. Your orthopaedic surgeon will work with you to develop a rehabilitation plan that begins while you’re still in the hospital and continues until you feel completely healed. Typical recoveries include physical therapy exercises to regain your strength, pain management, and learning safe new ways to move and bend.

Hip Revision

Hip replacements are designed to last your entire life. However, replacements can wear out due to natural use over time, or to an infection that can develop in nearby tissues. Hip revisions remove old hip implants that may have become a problem, and replace them with new ones. This surgery requires dedicated surgeons to remedy the failure of the initial replacement—MedStar Harbor Hospital surgeons have the requisite expertise and surgical experience to perform such an important procedure.