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What is arthritis and what causes it?

Arthritis is an umbrella term for a number of disease entities in which the joints become inflamed and the cartilage that lines the bones deteriorates. Eventually, bone on bone wear occurs. As the disease progresses, patients often experience pain, stiffness, and disability. The vast majority of people diagnosed have osteoarthritis and in most cases the cause of their condition cannot be identified. One or more joints may be affected. Rheumatoid arthritis (and other forms of inflammatory arthritis) is a disease that affects the entire system and multiple joints. This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body perceives the cartilage to be a foreign substance and attacks it.

If I have arthritis in one hip, will I get it in the other?

If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, having an affected hip does not mean that you will develop arthritis in the opposite hip. In contrast, patients with rheumatoid arthritis often develop problems in both hips.

Can I have joint replacement on both hips at the same time?

Yes, healthy patients in their 60s or younger, with no cardiopulmonary disease may be candidates for such surgery. Your orthopaedist can tell you more about what is involved.

What is a prosthetic hip made of?

The implant for a total hip replacement is composed of 3 parts: the stem, the ball, and the socket. The stem is made out of metal, usually cobalt-chrome or titanium, and is placed within the native thighbone. The ball is usually made out of polished metal or ceramic, and fits on top of the stem. The socket is usually a combination of a plastic liner and a cobalt-chrome or titanium backing.

Will my new hip set off the metal detector at the airport?

While hip implants generally do not set off metal detectors, more sensitive machines may register the presence of the implant. Some physicians give their patients cards to show at the airport that explain that the bearer has received a hip implant containing metal.

How soon after surgery can I resume driving?

Most patients can resume driving at six weeks after surgery.

How long will the replacement last?

Current studies indicated that about 80% of prostheses will function well for 20 years. If your prosthesis wears out you may be a candidate for a second hip replacement.

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