Thousands of joint pain sufferers in the U.S. are finding relief thanks to new surgical techniques and technological advances that make hip replacement surgery one of the most common orthopedic surgical procedures.


First introduced in 1960, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports more than 450,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the U.S. Dr. David Sun, a general orthopedics and adult joint reconstruction specialist with Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Baytown, says the procedure is recommended for patients struggling with pain that limits everyday activities, such as walking or bending that may be caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, previous injury or infection in the hip joint. It works to not only relieve pain, but also to improve mobility.


“When patients can’t do what they want to do physically, that’s when they schedule an appointment to see if they are a candidate for hip replacement surgery,” Sun said. “I only consider doing hip replacements in patients who cannot perform their activities of daily living, such as putting on shoes and socks or going up and down stairs without pain.”


Sun offers what’s called a direct anterior total hip replacement. “It’s a relatively new technique for replacing a worn hip that minimizes down time and speeds recovery with minimal hip precautions after surgery,” Sun said. “Patients recover much faster than with the traditional posterior hip approach from the back of the hip.”


Direct anterior hip replacement is a minimally invasive surgical technique that involves a three- to four-inch incision on the front of the hip that allows the joint to be replaced by moving muscles aside along their natural tissue planes. Sun says this approach often results in quicker recovery, less pain and more normal function after surgery, and allows patients to return to daily activities shortly after surgery with a reduced risk of dislocation.


Hip replacement surgery has traditionally been viewed as a procedure performed in older patients, but Sun says advances in implant construction and materials make it an option for younger patients as well.


“The implants themselves have improved tremendously in the last five to 10 years. Because the implants are lasting longer, patients who are 50 to 55 years old who want to maintain their lifestyle without significant inhibitions may be candidates for the procedure. In the past, the implants would not have lasted long enough and the younger patient would be faced with possibly having to undergo a second procedure at some point,” Sun said. “Now, implants wear as little as 0.1mm per year.”


Previously, implants lasted about 10 to 15 years, but they are now lasting around 20 to 25 years. In addition to the smaller incisions utilized in direct anterior hip replacement, access to improved pain management and physical therapy protocols help patients get back on their feet quicker and with less pain.


Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Baytown is located in the state-of-the-art outpatient center (1677 W. Baker Rd, suite 1701). In addition to total hip and knee joint replacements, the multidisciplinary team of orthopedic specialists and surgeons provide expert care for foot and ankle conditions, hand and upper extremity injuries, rotator cuff problems, spine issues and more. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit or call 281.427.7400.