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Center for Orthopedics

FAQ - Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement surgery involves removing the upper end of the thighbone (femur) and resurfacing the hip socket in the pelvic bone.

The hip is replaced with an artificial joint, made up of metal and/or non-metallic implants called a prosthesis. Resurfacing the damaged joint surfaces will help to alleviate pain and increase mobility, allowing a return to normal activities.

Who should have hip replacement surgery?

Individuals suffering from severe arthritis or injury who have already tried medications, modified activity levels, physical therapy, and the use of walking supports might be candidates for hip replacement surgery. The decision to have hip replacement surgery should be a collaborative decision between a patient, his or her family, and the patient’s primary care physician and orthopedic surgeon.

Are there alternatives to hip replacement surgery?

A physician might recommend some non-surgical options.  Anti-inflammatory drugs might provide temporary relief. Losing weight can help to decrease stress on all of the joints.  If pain persists or worsens, however, a physician might recommend surgery.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

  • How much improvement can I expect from surgery?
  • Are you board certified? Click here to search for a doctor in our online physician directory.
  • What type of anesthesia will be used?
  • What type of surgical method and implant will be used?
  • Should I discontinue taking any of my medications prior to surgery?
  • What are the complications associated with this type of surgery?
  • How long will I be in hospital?
  • How long will I be out of work?
  • When will I be able to resume day-to-day activities?
  • Am I a candidate for St. Clair Hospital’s Fast Track program?

Preparing for Surgery

  • Preparing for hip replacement surgery usually involves a health evaluation, including blood tests, a cardiogram and a urine sample. Patients should discuss all medications and supplements with his or her physician.
  • Patients should attend a pre-operative education class designed especially for those undergoing total joint replacement surgery. 
  • Physical and occupational therapists will discuss how to prepare the home for a safe post-surgical environment.

How long will I be in hospital?

Patients undergoing hip replacement surgery can expect a hospital stay of approximately three to four days. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis. An orthopedic surgeon might recommend additional hospital supervision if there are complications. Rehabilitation will continue on an outpatient basis.

How will control the pain?

There will be pain after surgery. An orthopedic surgeon will prescribe medication to control the pain.  Patients should alert the nursing staff if the pain medication is not working so changes can be made. It is important to be comfortable so physical therapy is not delayed.

What is the success rate?

Typically as a patient recovers, he or she will experience less pain and discomfort. Much of the success of the surgery is associated with how well a patient follows his or her orthopedic surgeon’s post-operative instructions.

What are the possible complications?

  • Complications during or after surgery are rare, but possible. Risks for complications should be discussed with a physician.
  • Blood clots can be a complication after hip replacement surgery. A physician will often start a patient on blood thinning medication to help prevent blood clots from forming. If a blood clot forms, a patient will be given a higher dose of blood thinning medication.
  • Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or chronic liver disease, are more susceptible to infection. Infection can usually be controlled with antibiotics; however, depending on the severity, additional surgery might be required.

What’s the rehabilitation process?

  • Patients should make arrangements to have someone help at home during the first few days, especially if  extensive rehabilitation is required.
  • Rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery might take up to several months and can be very intensive.  In addition to outpatient physical therapy, patients might be given an in-home exercise regimen to help build strength and endurance.  Most individuals gradually return to normal activities in about 12 weeks.
  • Patients should avoid high-impact sports, such as running and high-impact aerobics, following hip replacement surgery. These types of activities might loosen the prosthesis and can be painful.
  • An orthopedic surgeon will monitor a patient’s progress over a few months. He or she will discuss further appointments with a patient prior to discharge.

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