Overview

Hip Replacement Symptoms

Hip Replacement Symptoms

You might want to consider a hip replacement (also called total hip arthroplasty or THA) if:

  • Medication, physical therapy, and injections have failed to reduce pain in your hip, and/or
  • Hip pain limits your ability to walk, work, or perform simple activities. 

Benefits of Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement surgery removes the parts of the hip that are causing pain and replaces them with artificial parts. This procedure aims to:

  • Make it less painful to move the hip,
  • Improve hip function, and
  • Improve your quality of life.

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What Does Hip Replacement Surgery Involve?

For total hip replacement, the surgeon will remove the femoral head (ball part of the joint on the hip bone). Next they will shape a canal in the middle of the hip bone to fit the replacement ball onto the bone (stem). Then they will shape the socket (or cup) in the pelvis to fit the ball. Finally they insert a liner into the cup and a head (the ball) onto the stem.

Hospital Stay

For a total hip replacement surgery without complications, the hospital stay is about one to three days after surgery.

Physical Therapy

Starting the afternoon after surgery you will have physical therapy and after that twice a day, which includes exercises, learning to sit, stand and walk with your new total joint. Patients usually take a few steps the first day, then walk around their room and so on.

After you leave the hospital, you will have a list of the exercises you have learned to continue yourself at home. Many patients will receive physical therapy at home.

Risks of Hip Replacement Surgery

The major risks include the following:

  • Blood clot: We do reduce risk of this by using blood thinners (Enoxaparin, Aspirin or Coumadin), TED hose (compressive stockings) and compression boots on your feet to increase circulation.
  • Infection: You are given IV antibiotics before and after surgery.
  • Nerve, blood vessel damage: Because specialists performing this replacement work close to important vessels and nerves, they take great care not to injure these structures.
  • Total hip arthroplasty (THA) dislocation: As a patient you can avoid this by following total hip precautions. Complications with existing or new medical problems.

What If I Get an Infection?

Infection is very rare, but a difficult complication. Read more about joint infection after replacement.

What Happens When I Leave the Hospital?

You will usually need 24-hour help for a week. If you don't have adequate help at home, you should consider a rehab facility or extended care facility. You can check with your insurance to see who is approved, but the final plans will be made with our case management team while you are in the hospital.

What Are Total Hip Precautions?

Total hip precautions are guidelines to protect your new hip replacement.

  • You should avoid rotating the operated hip.
  • Keep your knees and toes straight ahead.
  • Avoid flexing hip past 90 percent for six weeks (though it’s best to follow precautions for life)
  • Avoid excessive stretching/yoga; your THA could dislocate anytime, even 10–20 years after surgery.

Hip Replacement Recovery Time

Recovery time, which is about four to six weeks, follows this schedule:

First Four to Six Weeks

  • Do your physical therapy exercises.
  • Keep the wound clean; no ointments or lotion on the wound.
  • Wear your TED hose for those four weeks.
  • Take blood thinners (Coumadin managed by the anti-coagulation service).
  • Walk as you are able with crutches/walker.
  • Transition to a single crutch/cane when you are ready.

Two weeks after your surgery, your surgeon will remove your staples.

After Six Weeks

  • Continue exercises and walk or ride a stationary bicycle.
  • Use a crutch/cane until you can walk without a limp.
  • Return to work part time or full time as you are able (as early as four to six weeks from surgery).
  • Return to full activity when ready except for running and jumping activities

We will also see you six weeks after surgery, six months, one year, and two years for the rest of your life. We will also take X-rays at six weeks and yearly. (Even if you live out of town, we like to see copies.)

The best lifelong activities at this point are walking, swimming, and biking.

How Long Does It Take Pain to Go Away After Hip Replacement?

General you will only take narcotics for pain as long as you need them, usually about 5–14 days from the day of surgery. After that Tylenol will usually handle the pain.

When Can I Drive After Hip Replacement Surgery?

Usually three to four weeks after surgery (Make sure you have control of your leg, you have no spasms, you are off pain medication, and use caution.)

Hip Replacement Complications

If you experience problems with your wound or joint replacement, please call the nurse/MA who works with your surgeon. Your post-surgery instructions will give you a phone number to use.

If you feel like it is an emergency, please call the clinic immediately or the University of Utah Hospital operator. The operator will have the orthopedic resident on call paged at the following number:

801-581-2121

If it is after 5 pm, go to your nearest emergency department.

How Long Does a Hip Replacement Last?

Today, your hip replacement will last 15–20 years, depending on how active you are and your general health. You may need another surgery depending on how old you are and how much wear and tear you put on your total joint.

You will continue to have X-rays every two years so we can monitor the joint. When it starts to wear out, we can often see changes on the X-ray before you feel symptoms. If we X-ray your joint every two years, we can better determine the need and time for another operation.

Do Total Joints Wear Out?

The metal parts of total joints can loosen over time, but often the cause of wear is from the bearing surface. Your immune system attacks the particles from the bearing surface but also melts bone away. Now we are using a metal liner (metal-on-metal), ceramic-on-ceramic and cross-linked polyethylene liners that wear less than what we had years ago.

Lifestyle Habits After Joint Replacement

After a joint replacement, patients can resume just about everything, especially walking, swimming, and bicycle riding. We discourage repetitive jumping and running, yoga, or excessive stretching.

You should also take prophylactic antibiotics, because total joints are made of metal and are at risk for infection when bacteria circulate through your bloodstream.

If your joint becomes infected, it requires more than two additional surgeries. Therefore, take antibiotics with any bacterial infection as prescribed by your family practitioner. We strongly recommend that you take antibiotics for all dental and invasive procedures for the rest of your life.