Hip Conditions

Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis)

Avascular necrosis (AVN), better known as osteonecrosis, of the femoral head, is a disease that causes death of bone.

There are only four "Ficat" stages. Stage 1 has a normal x-ray, but some other diagnostic test is positive (e.g., bone scan, MRI). Stage 2 has changes on plain x-ray but no sign of collapse. Stage 3 has a positive x-ray and signs of collapse (e.g., crescent sign), which is a crescent-shaped chondral lucency ( the fracture of AVN) seen on the plain x-ray. Stage 4 has a positive x-ray and signs of degenerative changes (e.g., osteoarthritis).

In the earliest stages of osteonecrosis plain x-rays are often normal. A magnetic resonance image (MRI) is the key that allows us to detect AVN at its earliest stages.

Will it get worse?

The natural history of osteonecrosis is linked to the size of the necrotic segment. Very small lesions (involvement of less than 15% of the femoral head) may resolve without any further treatment. On the other hand, lesions involving greater than 50% of the femoral head progress to collapse, and ultimately require in total hip arthroplasty.

Does Avascular Necrosis cause pain?

AVN may be present without any pain whatsoever. There may be early hip pain but unfortunately, pain often develops only once the osteonecrosis has progressed quite far. At that time the pain is caused by fragmentation and collapse of the femoral head.

How often is the other hip affected?

Verification of the status of the opposite hip is very important as part of the evaluation of osteonecrosis, because studies have shown that often the contralateral hip is asymptomatic and has a normal x-ray, and even more importantly in cases of non-traumatic osteonecrosis, the incidence of bilaterality is up to 80%.

Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis)

Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease is the most common type of arthritis that occurs most commonly in hips, knees, ankles, and foot joints. Osteoarthritis is also known as "wear and tear arthritis" since the cartilage simply wears out. When cartilage wears away, bone rubs on bone causing severe pain and disability. The most frequent reas on for osteoarthritis is genetic, since the durability of each individual's cartilage is based on genetics. If your parents have arthritis, you may also be at risk of suffering from degenerative joint disease.


Pain is the most frequent symptom for patients with osteoarthritis. The pain is usually described as being in the groin or thigh for degenerative joint disease of the hip. Degenerative joint disease of the knee most often results in pain in the knee joint. The pain is frequently associated with activity and relieved by rest. It may occur at night and, in severe cases, prevent sleep. Patients also complain of stiffness and often limp when they walk.

Femoroacetabular Impingement

Evidence is emerging that subtle abnormalities around the hip, resulting in femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), may be a contributing factor in some instances to osteoarthritis in the young patient. FAI is the abnormal contact or friction between the femoral neck/head (ball) and the acetabular margin (socket), causing tearing of the labrum and avulsion of the underlying cartilage region, continued deterioration, and eventual onset of arthritis. Nonsurgical treatment typically fails to control symptoms.

Hip Loose Bodies

The hip is described as a ball and socket joint. The ball of the femur sits deep inside the socket of the pelvic bone called the acetabulum. Several structures including the capsule, ligaments, and tendons hold these bones together. Sports injuries or trauma may move the ball too much one way or another causing small pieces of bone or cartilage to shear off. These small pieces are called "loose bodies.", and it is appropriate to think of these bodies as debris in the joint. These loose bodies may also be caused by degeneration to the hip joint as happens in many forms of arthritis. These loose bodies may stay in one place or may migrate within the joint. They can often cause pain and stiffness when they are pinched or caught between two moving structures. This pain or motion loss is seen in the groin where the true hip joint lies. Often, they may spontaneously move causing relief from the pain. However, as they are often constantly in motion, they may move to again cause pain in the same area or another area of the hip.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Swelling and heat (inflammation) of the joint lining called synovium causes a release of enzymes which soften and eventually destroy the cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus and psoriatic arthritis are inflammatory in nature.

Labral Tear

The labrum is a pad of fibrocartilage deep in the hip joint. The hip is a ball-in-socket joint with the ball from the thigh bone (femur) and the socket from the pelvis (acetabulum). The labrum is a pad of cartilage that lies between the femoral head (ball) and the acetabulum (socket). It acts as a stabilizer and a shock absorber in the hip. Labral tears are common in athletes. When tears in the labrum occur, patients can experience pain deep in the hip joint. There are many different causes for tears. When a labral tear is symptomatic and patients have failed non-surgical measures such as physical therapy, activity modification and medication, it may be repaired arthroscopically.

Snapping Hip

There are three types of snapping hip: internal (iliopsoas tendon or hip flexor), intra-articular (loose bodies), and external (IT band). In most patients the snapping is merely an annoyance, but it can lead to pain and dysfunction, especially with athletic activities. When non-surgical measures have failed, these conditions can be treated arthroscopically.

When is it Time to Think About Surgery?About the SurgeryPreparing for SurgeryWhat to Expect After SurgeryComplications and Risks of SurgeryRecovery PeriodTreating and Preventing InfectionPrintable PDF

You may need hip replacement surgery if you are experiencing pain or loss of motion in your hip joint. These symptoms may be caused by degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), rheumatoid arthritis, or avascular necrosis. Hip arthritis can be caused by injury to the joint, long-term steroid use, alcoholism or systemic diseases. When pain interferes with daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs or getting out of a chair, it’s usually time to consider having surgery.

Total hip replacement involves replacing damaged cartilage in your hip joint with smooth artificial surfaces. This is done by replacing the upper end of the thigh bone (femur) with a metal ball, and resurfacing the hip socket in the pelvic bone with a metal shell and liner. A 6-8 inch incision is made on the outside of the hip, which is closed with staples or adhesive.

You should be examined by your family doctor to ensure you are healthy enough for the planned surgery. You will be encouraged to stop smoking before surgery to prevent lung complications or delayed healing. Pre-admission testing (lab work, EKG, chest x-ray) and attendance at a “joint camp” will also be scheduled to further help you prepare for surgery. Anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, and blood thinning medications should be discontinued one week before your surgery. These medications affect your blood clotting factors and could increase your risk of blood loss during surgery.

You will wake up in the recovery room after surgery with an IV for antibiotics and fluid replacement that will be continued for 24 hours. You may receive medication through an IV-regulated pump to control your pain.

Physical therapy will begin the day after your surgery and you will be instructed on how to walk with the use of a walker. You may also be allowed to bear weight as tolerated on the affected hip, but you will have “hip precautions” that you will need to follow for lifetime.

Hip precautions:

  • Do not sit with legs crossed.
  • Do not sit on low chairs, beds, tubs, or toilets.
  • Do not raise your knee higher than your hip.
  • Do not bend over more than 90 degrees (do not put on your own shoes).
  • Do not lean forward while you are sitting or as you stand up.


You may be given a prescription for a blood thinner such as Coumadin, Xarelto, Lovenox, or Aspirin to take after surgery, in order to prevent blood clots during the healing process.

Blood clots: You are encouraged to get up and move frequently as well as take your prescription blood thinner to help prevent clotting. Symptoms of clotting include pain, swelling or redness of your calf or thigh and shortness of breath. Call the office immediately if you develop any of these symptoms.

Infection: Infection is rare, but can occur following surgery. You are at higher risk of infection if you have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver or kidney disease, or if you are taking steroids. Symptoms include fever or chills, drainage, redness, a foul smell or increased pain at the surgical site. Call the office immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

Blood loss: It is possible that you will need a blood transfusion following surgery. Your doctor will evaluate you daily to determine if there is a need for a transfusion.

Hip dislocation: It’s rare, but a dislocation may occur. This happens when your new “ball socket” is no longer in your hip joint. If you feel you have dislocated your hip and are not able to walk, you must go to the emergency room to have a doctor move the hip back into place.

Nerve damage: Damage to your surrounding hip nerves is rare, but can occur. Symptoms include the inability to lift your affected foot, numbness or tingling of the leg. Although these symptoms get better over time and may go away completely, you should still be evaluated by your doctor.

Anesthesia complications: Respiratory failure, shock, cardiac arrest, and death are always possible during surgery. Patients with long-term liver, kidney, heart or lung disease are at a higher risk.

Bone fracture: Although it is rare, a fracture could occur during surgery while fixating the femur implant. If a fracture occurs during your surgery, the doctor will correct the problem with additional cabling and the use of a longer implant. If you develop thigh pain after surgery, alert your doctor so further x-rays can be done to rule out a fracture.

Difference in leg length: When your implant is attached, it may leave you with a small difference in leg lengths. This can be corrected with shoe inserts if this difference persists over six months.

Pneumonia: Lung congestion is possible while you are recovering from surgery and are not as active. Coughing and deep breathing are encouraged to help you expand your lungs and clear any congestion.

Constipation: Bowel movements slow down with less activity and the use of pain medications. You will be encouraged to use stool softeners after you are discharged to promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation.

Urinary tract infection: Infection to your urinary tract can occur after having surgery. Symptoms include burning and frequent urination, as well as blood in your urine. Fever and weakness may also occur. Report any of these signs to your doctor. This type of infection is a major source of joint infection and should be treated with antibiotics quickly.

The average recovery period for hip replacement is 2-3 months. Most patients are back to work in 2 months if their job is sedentary, and 3 months if they have a labor-intensive job. Exercise such as running, skiing, or contact sports are discouraged following hip replacement surgery. Activities like swimming, walking and biking are encouraged to promote hip strength and overall fitness.

Notify your family doctor if you develop any suspected infection so you can be placed on an antibiotic to prevent the spread of infection to your hip joint. Infections such as ear infections, ingrown toenails, bladder infections, sinus infections, and sore throats should be reported immediately. Make sure your doctors know you have had a joint replacement so you can be pre-medicated with an antibiotic before any dental work, or bladder/bowel surgery.

Hip Specialists

Dr. Dirk A. Bakker
Dr. Dirk A. Bakker
Dr. Rick A. Baszler
Dr. Rick A. Baszler
Dr. Phillip J. Dabrowski
Dr. Phillip J. Dabrowski
Dr. Daniel J. Fett
Dr. Daniel J. Fett
Dr. Yousif I. Hamati
Dr. Yousif I. Hamati
Dr. Martin M. Pallante
Dr. Martin M. Pallante
Dr. Aaron D. Potts
Dr. Aaron D. Potts
Dr. James R. Ringler
Dr. James R. Ringler