Frequently Asked Questions About Degenerative Joint Disease

What is degenerative joint disease?

Degenerative joint disease, a chronic condition that affects millions of Americans, is a common cause of hip pain and often results in lessened quality of life and loss of an active lifestyle. If you suffer from hip pain due to degenerative joint disease, there are treatment options available that can enable you to maintain your lifestyle and improve your quality of life. There are different types of degenerative joint disease that may cause hip pain. These include but are not limited to:

  • Osteoarthritis, also called “wear-and-tear arthritis,” is a condition that causes cartilage to wear down over time.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis, which results from a severe fracture or dislocation.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory arthritis of the joints.
  • Avascular necrosis, a condition in which the “ball,” or femoral head, has lost a healthy supply of blood flow, causing the bone to die and the femoral head to become misshapen.
  • Hip dysplasia, a condition in which bones around the hip did not form properly, which may cause misalignment of the hip joint.

What causes degenerative joint disease?

Degenerative joint disease can have a number of causes, including a previous hip injury, repetitive strain on the hip, improper joint alignment, being overweight, stress on the hip joint due to exercise or sports, or a combination thereof. The risk of developing symptomatic degenerative joint disease is influenced by multiple factors such as age, gender, and inherited traits that can affect the shape and stability of your joints.

What are the symptoms and risk factors?

The most common symptom of degenerative joint disease of the hip is pain, which may occur in four places: the groin, outside the hip, lower back, and between the thigh to the knee or below. The risk of developing symptomatic degenerative joint disease is influenced by multiple factors including age, gender and inherited traits that can affect the shape and stability of your joints. Pain from the hip is commonly mistaken for back pain, and may be treated as such until the diagnosis of degenerative joint disease is made.

What causes the pain?

Degenerative joint disease of the hip is a loss of cartilage, or lining, of the hip joint. Cartilage serves as a cushion and allows for smooth movement of the hip. When cartilage wears away, the ball-and-socket bones touch, creating bone-on-bone contact. This contact creates pain, swelling, and stiffness.

How is degenerative joint disease treated?

For hip pain, non-surgical treatment options are often the first line of defense. This can include resting the hip from overuse, gentle exercise (such as swimming), or over-the-counter medicines to manage the pain. If your symptoms aren’t responding to non-surgical solutions, be sure to speak with your doctor. You may be a candidate for total hip replacement.

What is total hip replacement?

Patients who have degenerative joint disease may benefit from total hip replacement, also referred to as total hip arthroplasty. This is a surgical procedure in which the arthritic hip joint is replaced by implants, which include: a metal cup with a plastic liner, which replaces the socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis, and a metal femoral stem and head. The goal of total hip replacement is to increase mobility and ability to perform daily activities.

How does MAKOplasty® total hip replacement help?

MAKOplasty is an innovative, breakthrough solution for those suffering with painful degenerative joint disease of the hip and need a total hip replacement. MAKOplasty, powered by the RIO® Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopedic System, allows your surgeon to treat your specific hip condition with accuracy and precision. During surgery, the robotic arm guides your surgeon in preparing your socket in the pelvis and positioning the implants. Real-time information and images allow your surgeon to know and control accurate implant placement, which can be difficult to achieve using traditional surgical techniques without a robotic arm. MAKOplasty benefits may include:

  • Accurate placement of your hip implant using the surgeon-controlled robotic arm system, which can reduce the likelihood of hip dislocation.
  • More consistency in leg length, potentially decreasing the need for a shoe lift.
  • Decreased risk of the implant and bone abnormally rubbing together – this may improve the lifetime of the implant.

How does MAKOplasty® work?

If your surgeon determines that you are a good candidate for the MAKOplasty procedure, one or two weeks prior to your surgery date you will receive a CT scan of your hip. This is used to create a 3-D model of your hip pelvis and femur. The surgeon uses the RIO® software with information from the model to plan your surgery based on your unique anatomy. During surgery, the software provides real-time information to optimize implant positioning and alignment, and the robotic arm is used to prepare your socket and guide placement of the implants.

Who is a good candidate for the MAKOplasty® total hip procedure?

If you have one or more of the following symptoms, you may be a candidate for MAKOplasty:

  • Pain while putting weight on the affected joints.
  • Limping to lessen the weight-bearing pressure on the hip.
  • Hip pain or stiffness during walking or other impact activities.
  • Failure to respond to non-surgical treatments or pain medication.

If I undergo MAKOplasty ® total hip replacement, what can I expect?

A typical hospital stay for a total hip replacement is determined by your MAKOplasty surgeon. Your surgeon will also determine what physical therapy may be prescribed for you. As a total hip replacement procedure, MAKOplasty is typically covered by Medicare. Check with your private health insurance to verify coverage.

What is the lifespan of a MAKOplasty® implant?

All implants have a life expectancy that depends on several factors, including the patient’s weight, activity level, quality of bone, and compliance with physician’s orders. Proper implant alignment and precise positioning during surgery are also very important factors that can improve the life expectancy of an implant. Through the use of the RIO System, implants can be optimally aligned and positioned to ensure the longest benefit.

For more information on degenerative joint disease and the MAKOplasty total hip replacement procedure, download the Medical City Hospital guide Are You Living with Hip Pain?