Overview

Hip pain can be hard to deal with. Not only can it cause soreness, stiffness, and inflammation, but it can interfere with critical day-to-day activities like walking and moving.

If you’ve suffered from hip pain for a long time, you may be considering surgery. But how do you know if hip replacement surgery is a good choice for you?

What Are the Signs You Need a Hip Replacement?

As with most types of treatment, you should try more conservative treatments first before you consider surgery. Anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen can soothe hip pain, while walkers and crutches can improve your mobility and help you walk more easily.

But if physical therapy, exercise, and pain medications haven’t improved your hip pain or made it easier for you to get around, it may be a good idea to consider hip replacement surgery.

  1. Pain medication and physical therapy don’t work—For some people, pain medication is an effective treatment in relieving hip pain. But medication can have unpleasant side effects, like sleepiness and decreased appetite. It can also be addictive. It can be hard to tolerate these side effects, especially when medication doesn’t give you the relief you want.
  2. Hip pain affects your day-to-day activities and mood—Does your hip pain make it difficult to walk, bend, go grocery shopping, or climb upstairs? Does your hip pain make you depressed or irritable most of the time? These are signs that hip replacement surgery may be a good treatment option for you.
  3. Your hip hurts when you’re resting—Physical movement like walking or going upstairs can irritate your hip joints and cause pain. Taking a break from movement usually makes hip pain better. But if your hip hurts when you’re resting during the day or at night, you may want to consider surgery.
  4. You know your hip is causing your pain—Sometimes pain around your hip is actually caused by pain in your back or knee. In these cases, hip replacement surgery won’t help. To see where your pain is coming from, your doctor can numb your hip. If you still have pain in your hip afterwards, then your pain is probably coming from your back or knee.
  5. Your hip joint is damaged—If your doctor has told you that your hip joint is deformed or damaged, it may be a good idea to consider hip replacement surgery. Damaged joints can get worse over time. If you wait too long, it may be harder for a doctor to fix them.
  6. You have severe arthritis in your hip—Different types of arthritis can affect your hip joints. These include osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. If your arthritis has caused severe damage to your hip joints, surgery may help. Hip replacement surgery can help relieve pain and make it easier for you to get back to your regular activities.
  7. Stiffness makes it hard to move or lift your leg—If you hip joints are so stiff that it’s hard to move or lift your leg, this may be a sign that hip replacement surgery is your best option.
  8. You want long-lasting relief—Most treatments for hip pain are only temporary. Injections usually last for a couple months. Pain medications only last a few hours. Hip replacement surgery, on the other hand, lasts for decades. Almost 85 percent of artificial hip joints used in hip replacement surgeries last 20 years.

What Happens During Hip Replacement Surgery?

Your hip joint is made up of a ball that sits on top of a socket right above your femur (thigh bone). During hip replacement surgery, your surgeon will replace your damaged ball and socket with metal and plastic materials.

These artificial materials help your hip joint work more normally so your hip can glide and move.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From a Hip Replacement?

Most people can get back to light activities three to six weeks after their surgery. But you won’t be able to twist or pivot your legs for six months to a year.

The best thing you can do to help your recovery go faster is to stick to your physical therapy routine. Your doctor or physical therapist will ask you to do specific exercises each day to help your recovery go well.

People with diabetes, heart disease, or lung problems may have a harder time recovering. If you live alone, you should have someone check on you regularly for the first several weeks after your surgery.

Next Steps

Deciding to have hip replacement surgery can be difficult. If you have any of the symptoms above and think you may be a good candidate, make an appointment with our joint replacement specialists.

Our orthopedic specialists can help you decide if hip replacement surgery is a good treatment for you.