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Hip Replacement

Hip Xray

The most common form of arthritis — osteoarthritis — is a wear and tear condition that destroys joint cartilage, due to years of constant motion and pressure in the joints. Cartilage cannot be replaced once it is destroyed.

Joint deterioration can affect every aspect of a person's life. In the early stages of that breakdown—called osteoarthritis—people commonly ignore the symptoms. As the disease progresses, activities such as walking, driving and standing become more challenging, painful and difficult. Common reasons patients consider surgical intervention include:

  • Significant pain (rated above a 10 by an evaluating physician)
  • Reduction in joint function
  • Inability to do simple daily activities
  • Failed conservative measures such as injections, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy

Patients need to be in strong health for joint replacement, with diabetes under control and as much weight lost as possible if overweight. Joint replacements last anywhere from 15 to 20 years, perhaps even longer if the patient is an ideal weight and does low-impact activities, such as walking and swimming.

The healthy hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is at the top of the thighbone (femur), and the socket (acetabulum) is in the hipbone (pelvis). The connection allows the leg to move in a variety of positions. The ball and socket are each covered with cartilage that lubricates and cushions the bones during movement.

Hip replacement surgery removes the arthritic ball of the upper femur (thighbone) as well as the damaged cartilage from the hip socket (cup). In as little time as one hour, the surgeon will replace the deteriorated cartilage and bone with metal, plastic or ceramic pieces. This restores alignment and function. The implants—one for the ball part of the joint and one for the cup—are specifically designed to eliminate painful bone-on-bone contact.