The Hip Joint

The hip joint is one of the largest joints in the human body and is what is known as a 'ball and socket joint'.
In a healthy hip joint, the bones are connected to each other with bands of tissue known as ligaments. These ligaments are lubricated with fluid to reduce friction.
Joints are also surrounded by a type of tissue called cartilage that is designed to help support the joints and prevent bones from rubbing against each other.
The main purpose of the hip joints is to support the upper body when a person is standing, walking and running, and to help with certain movements, such as bending and stretching.

It might be necessary for you to have a hip replacement if one (or both) of your hip joints becomes damaged and causes you persistent pain or problems with everyday activities such as walking, driving and getting dressed.

Some common reasons why a hip joint can become damaged include:

  • osteoarthritis – so-called 'wear and tear arthritis', where the cartilage inside a hip joint becomes worn away, leading to the bones rubbing against each other

  • rheumatoid arthritis – this is caused by the immune system (the body's defence against infection) mistakenly attacking the lining of the joint, resulting in pain and stiffness

  • hip fracture – if a hip joint becomes severely damaged during a fall or similar accident it may be necessary to replace it

Many of the conditions treated with a hip replacement are age-related so hip replacements are usually carried out in older adults aged between 60 and 80.
However, in some cases a hip replacement may be necessary in children or younger adults whose hips are incorrectly formed (hip dysplasia).

The purpose of a new hip joint is to:

  • relieve pain
  • improve the function of your hip
  • improve your ability to move around
  • improve your quality of life