Ask The Doctor: Is Hip Replacement Considered Routine Surgery?


Zafar Ahmad, MD, St. Mary’s Orthopedics

What inspired you to become an orthopedic surgeon?
I became an orthopedic surgeon because I wanted to make a big difference in patient’s lives. Surgery can take a patient from being unable to safely walk to walking well. Positively impacting my patients’ quality of life is very fulfilling.

What brought you to St. Mary’s Orthopedics?
I joined St. Mary’s Orthopedics in 2023 because I was so impressed with the health system’s talented staff, high quality of care and commitment to mission. I was also drawn to St. Mary’s community culture. It is welcoming and warm. St. Mary’s is a special place.

What types of surgeries do you most often complete?
The most common orthopedic surgeries are sports knee, trauma knee and hip replacements. I often take on hip replacements because they usually have a good outcome and positively impact a patient’s daily life. In most cases, a patient comes to me with limited mobility. After surgery, recovery and physical therapy they are able to walk.

How do you determine if a hip replacement is necessary?
When I see a new patient, I want to understand their symptoms and how they’re feeling. My typical protocol would be to assess a patient’s weight, overall mobility and knee/back health as well as whether or not they are suffering from osteoarthritis, an age-related wear-and-tear type of arthritis or any other type of arthritis. If the cartilage that cushions a patient’s hips wears away, bones are then rubbing against each other, which causes hip pain and stiffness. Based on that assessment, I would recommend treatment including:

  • Optimizing weight to take stress off the hips
  • Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and reduce pain
  • Injections to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Surgery to replace a completely worn-out hip

Hip replacement is a major surgery. However, it could also be considered a routine surgery as more than 450,000 hip replacements are performed annually in the United States* alone.

What can a person do to take better of their bone health and avoid hip replacement?
In many cases, a person is predisposed to bone health issues due to genetics, medical conditions or even an occupation that is hard on joints. At a basic level, people can take these two important steps to care for themselves:

  • Strive to maintain a healthy weight. Many studies have shown considerably reduced pain in people who lose even a moderate amount of weight.
  • Try to reduce, or at least take a break from, strenuous activity that may put excess pressure on hip joints.

What would you consider your greatest strengths?

First, I have lots of global experience. Interestingly, I actually completed my fellowship at the United Kingdom hospital where the hip replacement was invented and refined. Secondly, my mission to care for people in the community and get them back to moving and enjoying their lives, aligns well with St. Mary’s mission to provide healing care for the whole person in service to all in our communities. Finally, I also genuinely enjoy working closely with primary care providers and ensuring my patients feel informed, empowered and supported.

Learn more about Dr. Ahmad here. To learn more about St. Mary’s Orthopedics – Auburn at 15 Gracelawn Road, please click here. To make an appointment, please call 207.333.4710.

*Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

(207) 777-8100
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