Advise Me

Hip Preservation vs. Hip Replacement

“Click… Click… Click…” No that’s not your computer mouse, it’s the sound your hip has been making with every stride. If hip pain is keeping you from doing what you love and limiting your daily activities, you might be wondering what options you have. Whereas a bad hip was a dead end for past generations, innovative treatments and surgeries give you a lot of options today.

We spoke with Laura Vogel, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with TOCA at Banner Health in Arizona. She helped explain the differences between hip preservation and hip replacement surgeries and why you may be a good candidate.

What is hip preservation surgery?

“Hip preservation surgery is any surgery that alleviates pain and allows you to keep your natural hip for a longer amount of time,” said Dr. Vogel. In most cases, hip arthroscopy and/or osteotomy surgeries are used to fix different, pre-arthritic problems that don’t necessarily require a full joint replacement.

Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive technique that enters the joint via small incisions. Using small tools, the surgeon can investigate and sometimes treat damage found in the joint. The minimally invasive nature of the surgery allows for much faster recovery.

An Osteotomy is a surgery that improves the mechanics of your joint motion. It is more invasive than arthroscopy but allows patients to keep their natural bone with more comfortable motion. Improved weight-bearing mechanics can lead to greater longevity for the joint.

Saving a hip replacement for later in life is a good thing. Although the results for hip replacement are often very good, it’s not something you want to have done too early in life. Hip preservation surgery is a great solution for younger, active people with hip pain, mild degeneration or dysplasia. It can reduce the pain, lessen the irritation of your joint and get you back to the sports and lifestyle you love.

When is hip preservation surgery not right?

Hip preserving procedures or surgery are not a good long-term fix for older adults or people who have significant arthritis or osteoporosis. If your hip bone is degenerating, hip preservation surgery could just be putting off an inevitable hip replacement surgery that will give you more reliable relief. Avascular necrosis, which is a disruption in the blood flow to your bone, may eventually lead to arthritis, and can actually be treated by hip preservation surgeries. Although it should be caught early on if it is going to be effective.

Which is right for me?

Hip surgery—any surgery, for that matter—can feel extremely intimidating. As one of the most important joints in your body, you want to make sure you are making the right moves to keep yourself active. There is a lot that goes into picking the right solution for your case and it’s a decision that’s best left to your trained doctors.

It’s important to know that hip pain is not something you should have to surrender to. It’s natural for our bodies to feel aches and pains, especially after decades of life and activity. But if you have found yourself slowing down due to discomfort, don’t wait to find a solution. No matter your age, “a body in motion stays in motion.” There is likely a solution for your hip pain that will get you moving comfortably again. Don’t push through pain. Find a solution quickly that will make sure you aren’t down and out for too long.

Learn more about your joint health. Take our free Joint Pain Test to assess how your knee or hip pain may be impacting your life. To find an orthopaedic surgeon or physical therapist to address your hip pain, visit

What are you doing to protect your joints? Learn tips for caring for your joints and about the innovative treatments restoring movement for people like you. Read on:

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