Hip Replacement

Get back to doing the things you love without pain

If you are experiencing hip pain and limited movement, it can be hard to do the things you enjoy. Hip replacement surgery can be life-changing and help you regain natural movement.

Hip replacement is an elective procedure that restores function of the hip joint and relieves pain. Every year, more than one million Americans return to their lives, pain free, due to total joint replacement surgery.

If you've noticed changes in your daily life—a struggle to tie shoes, trouble getting up and down—hip replacement could be an option to help you get your quality of life back.

Who Benefits from Total Hip Replacement

There are many possible causes behind hip pain. People who experience the most dramatic benefits from total hip replacement are those experiencing hip pain due to:

Most people who have hip replacement surgery regain movement and experience lasting pain relief as a result. Hip replacement surgery may not be the right option if your pain is due to nerve damage or if you're experiencing loss of motion but not experiencing hip pain.

Understanding Hip Replacement

If you've noticed changes in your daily life—a struggle to tie shoes, trouble getting up and down—hip replacement could be an option to help you get your quality of life back.

Who Benefits from Total Hip Replacement

There are many possible causes behind hip pain. People who experience the most dramatic benefits from total hip replacement are those experiencing hip pain due to:

Most people who have hip replacement surgery regain movement and experience lasting pain relief as a result. Hip replacement surgery may not be the right option if your pain is due to nerve damage or if you're experiencing loss of motion but not experiencing hip pain.

Joint replacement surgery has been performed for many years and has the potential to dramatically improve quality of life for many people. In 95% of cases, a new hip joint will last 20 years or longer.

Joint replacement is a major surgery. It does have some risks. It is important that you know of possible risks and complications of joint replacement surgery and discuss them with your surgeon.

Deciding on Hip Replacement

Your hip may be damaged from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone loss (avascular necrosis), bone tumor or injury. No matter the cause of the damage—and your pain—you are ready to feel better.

The first step in considering hip replacement surgery is imaging. X-rays show your doctor exactly what’s going on with your hip joint. After examining you and viewing your images, your doctor can recommend if surgery is a good option.

If you decide hip replacement is right for you, your surgery is scheduled for a time that works well for you and when you have friends or family who can help you after surgery. You also attend a pre-surgery joint replacement class to learn what to expect from before, during and after your surgery.

Non-Operative Treatments

As with any elective surgery, you should explore non-operative alternatives before making a decision. For hip pain, you should consider the following:

  • Exercise/Conditioning
  • Medication, including Tylenol and anti-inflammatories, such as Advil or Motrin
  • Injections, including steroid and Synvisc and Hyalgan
  • Bracing
  • Acupuncture
  • Weight loss
  • Activity modification

In many cases, one or a combination of these treatments can delay or prevent the need for hip replacement surgery. If you've tried the non-operative treatments above and you still have hip pain, your doctor may suggest hip replacement surgery.

Am I Too Young for Hip Replacement?

In the past, hip replacement was reserved for people older than 60. Technology has improved and, today, younger people can have hip replacement, remain active and expect the joint to last a long time. Your doctor will discuss with you how active you plan to be, your overall health and the expected success of your hip replacement.

What to Expect During the Procedure

Your thigh bone (femur) has a ball on the end at the pelvis. This ball (acetabulum) fits into a socket in the hip bone. The ball-and-socket configuration permits you to move – sit, stand, walk and do other activities.

During hip replacement, your surgeon removes diseased bone and cartilage from the hip joint. The surgeon replaces the ball and socket with artificial parts made from materials that allow your hip joint to glide naturally.

You can expect hip replacement surgery to last one to two hours. Your surgeon may use a special cement to bond the new hip parts to your healthy bone. If cement isn’t used, the artificial parts of your new joint grow together with your existing bone. You’re more likely to have a non-cemented procedure if you’re younger and healthier.

What to Expect From Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Joint replacement surgery has been performed for many years and has the potential to dramatically improve quality of life for many people. In 95% of cases, a new hip joint will last 20 years or longer.

Joint replacement is a major surgery. It does have some risks. It is important that you know of possible risks and complications of joint replacement surgery and discuss them with your surgeon.

Deciding on Hip Replacement

Your hip may be damaged from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone loss (avascular necrosis), bone tumor or injury. No matter the cause of the damage—and your pain—you are ready to feel better.

The first step in considering hip replacement surgery is imaging. X-rays show your doctor exactly what’s going on with your hip joint. After examining you and viewing your images, your doctor can recommend if surgery is a good option.

If you decide hip replacement is right for you, your surgery is scheduled for a time that works well for you and when you have friends or family who can help you after surgery. You also attend a pre-surgery joint replacement class to learn what to expect from before, during and after your surgery.

Non-Operative Treatments

As with any elective surgery, you should explore non-operative alternatives before making a decision. For hip pain, you should consider the following:

  • Exercise/Conditioning
  • Medication, including Tylenol and anti-inflammatories, such as Advil or Motrin
  • Injections, including steroid and Synvisc and Hyalgan
  • Bracing
  • Acupuncture
  • Weight loss
  • Activity modification

In many cases, one or a combination of these treatments can delay or prevent the need for hip replacement surgery. If you've tried the non-operative treatments above and you still have hip pain, your doctor may suggest hip replacement surgery.

Am I Too Young for Hip Replacement?

In the past, hip replacement was reserved for people older than 60. Technology has improved and, today, younger people can have hip replacement, remain active and expect the joint to last a long time. Your doctor will discuss with you how active you plan to be, your overall health and the expected success of your hip replacement.

What to Expect During the Procedure

Your thigh bone (femur) has a ball on the end at the pelvis. This ball (acetabulum) fits into a socket in the hip bone. The ball-and-socket configuration permits you to move – sit, stand, walk and do other activities.

During hip replacement, your surgeon removes diseased bone and cartilage from the hip joint. The surgeon replaces the ball and socket with artificial parts made from materials that allow your hip joint to glide naturally.

You can expect hip replacement surgery to last one to two hours. Your surgeon may use a special cement to bond the new hip parts to your healthy bone. If cement isn’t used, the artificial parts of your new joint grow together with your existing bone. You’re more likely to have a non-cemented procedure if you’re younger and healthier.

Watch: Hip Replacement What to Expect

Before your hip replacement surgery, you will be evaluated to make sure you're healthy enough for surgery. This could include blood tests and occasionally a chest X-ray. Your doctor will tell you which medications to stop taking right before surgery, rules about eating and drinking before surgery, and any other steps you need to take to prepare for hip replacement surgery.

Hip replacement is a major surgery, and you will need help around the house until you get your mobility back. Your doctor will provide a list of steps to take in advance to make your recovery easier, including things like:

  • Having caregivers available to help you
  • Stocking up on prepared meals and groceries
  • Having items you use a lot within easy reach
  • Removing rugs, furniture, cords and obstacles that could cause you to trip
  • Planning a way to wash or bathe
  • Installing a raised toilet seat

Your doctor will also tell you if you need to get crutches or a walker in advance and what to bring to the hospital.

Why Choose IU Health for Your Hip Replacement

Due to our relationship with Indiana University School of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country, you receive the latest treatments and benefits of research and experience. Orthopedic surgeons at IU Health perform more than 3,300 joint replacements each year.

We are home to the only hospital in the United States that ranks in the Top 10 for both length of stay and readmission, two industry-wide measures of success. Learn more about the IU Health Hip & Knee Center.

Your Healthcare Team

Your healthcare team has special training in orthopedics. They will help you through your surgery. Here are some of the members of your team:

You are the most important member of your healthcare team. Your input will be important during your stay and you will be involved in all aspects of your care. Your support person — a loved one, friend or family member — should attend all appointments with you and be with you at all times during your hospital stay. This person will support, encourage and care for you as needed while you recover.
Your surgical team includes your orthopedic surgeon, an anesthesiologist and registered nurse who are in charge of managing your care before, during and after surgery.

In most hip replacement cases, therapy isn't necessary once you've been discharged from the hospital. However, during your stay, physical and occupational therapists will work with you to maximize your independence and ensure you are safe to go home. They will teach you exercises to regain muscle strength, walk with a device and complete daily tasks.

The rest of your care team consists of case managers, pharmacists, hospitalists and support staff to make sure your surgery, hospital stay and aftercare go according to plan.

Preparing for Hip Replacement

Before your hip replacement surgery, you will be evaluated to make sure you're healthy enough for surgery. This could include blood tests and occasionally a chest X-ray. Your doctor will tell you which medications to stop taking right before surgery, rules about eating and drinking before surgery, and any other steps you need to take to prepare for hip replacement surgery.

Hip replacement is a major surgery, and you will need help around the house until you get your mobility back. Your doctor will provide a list of steps to take in advance to make your recovery easier, including things like:

  • Having caregivers available to help you
  • Stocking up on prepared meals and groceries
  • Having items you use a lot within easy reach
  • Removing rugs, furniture, cords and obstacles that could cause you to trip
  • Planning a way to wash or bathe
  • Installing a raised toilet seat

Your doctor will also tell you if you need to get crutches or a walker in advance and what to bring to the hospital.

Why Choose IU Health for Your Hip Replacement

Due to our relationship with Indiana University School of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country, you receive the latest treatments and benefits of research and experience. Orthopedic surgeons at IU Health perform more than 3,300 joint replacements each year.

We are home to the only hospital in the United States that ranks in the Top 10 for both length of stay and readmission, two industry-wide measures of success. Learn more about the IU Health Hip & Knee Center.

Your Healthcare Team

Your healthcare team has special training in orthopedics. They will help you through your surgery. Here are some of the members of your team:

You are the most important member of your healthcare team. Your input will be important during your stay and you will be involved in all aspects of your care. Your support person — a loved one, friend or family member — should attend all appointments with you and be with you at all times during your hospital stay. This person will support, encourage and care for you as needed while you recover.
Your surgical team includes your orthopedic surgeon, an anesthesiologist and registered nurse who are in charge of managing your care before, during and after surgery.

In most hip replacement cases, therapy isn't necessary once you've been discharged from the hospital. However, during your stay, physical and occupational therapists will work with you to maximize your independence and ensure you are safe to go home. They will teach you exercises to regain muscle strength, walk with a device and complete daily tasks.

The rest of your care team consists of case managers, pharmacists, hospitalists and support staff to make sure your surgery, hospital stay and aftercare go according to plan.

Your movement will be limited right after hip replacement surgery. Your nurses will brace your hip with pillows or a device to hold it safely in place when you’re in bed. You may receive fluids through an IV tube. You may have a drainage tube near your incision and a catheter to drain your urine until you can use the bathroom.

Your doctor will prescribe medication for pain.

Rehabilitation

Usually the day after surgery, a therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your hip and help with your recovery. The therapist will also show you how to safely bend, sit, stand and walk until you have full movement in your new hip. You can usually walk with assistance within a day or two after surgery.

You can expect to spend three or four days in the hospital and full recovery after three to six months.

After Your Surgery

Your movement will be limited right after hip replacement surgery. Your nurses will brace your hip with pillows or a device to hold it safely in place when you’re in bed. You may receive fluids through an IV tube. You may have a drainage tube near your incision and a catheter to drain your urine until you can use the bathroom.

Your doctor will prescribe medication for pain.

Rehabilitation

Usually the day after surgery, a therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your hip and help with your recovery. The therapist will also show you how to safely bend, sit, stand and walk until you have full movement in your new hip. You can usually walk with assistance within a day or two after surgery.

You can expect to spend three or four days in the hospital and full recovery after three to six months.

Frequently Asked Questions About Total Hip Replacement

Deciding on Hip Replacement

Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage on the ends of your bones deteriorates over time, causing bones to rub together. The rubbing can cause pain, swelling, and loss of joint motion. If left untreated, the pain and decreased mobility may worsen.

Your thigh bone (femur) has a ball on the end at the pelvis. This ball (acetabulum) fits into a socket in the hip bone.

The ball-and-socket configuration permits you to move, sit, stand, walk, and do other activities.

During hip replacement, your surgeon removes diseased bone and cartilage from the hip joint. The surgeon then replaces the ball and socket with artificial parts made from materials that allow your hip joint to glide naturally.

Complications after hip replacement surgery are rare, but include:

  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Change in leg length
  • Loosening

With improvements in the technology of joint replacements, the age range for people appropriate for hip replacement has expanded over the years. In the past, joint replacement was reserved for people older than 60.

Technology has improved, and, today, younger people can have hip replacement, remain active, and expect the joint to last a long time. Your doctor will discuss with you how active you plan to be, your overall health, and the expected success of your hip replacement.

It may be time for a hip replacement surgery if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Hip discomfort
  • Constant pain
  • A “grating” feeling in your hip joint
  • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
  • Difficulty getting in and out of chairs and bathtubs
  • Difficulty putting on socks and shoes
  • Morning stiffness

About the Procedure

There are several factors that determine the life span of an artificial hip, including your level of physical activity, weight, and overall condition. A majority of hip replacements are still doing well at 15 years, and—based on laboratory testing—may continue to last as long as 25–30 years.

There are a variety of things that contribute to the length of the incision. These include, but are not limited to, patient size, muscularity, and unusual anatomy of the hip joint.

Hip replacement implants are made of a variety of materials including titanium metal (a highly porous metal), polyethylene, ceramic, Cobalt Chrome, or a combination of these materials.

It is possible that that your artificial joint could cause metal detectors to go off. If this happens, do not panic. If you are in an airport, you do not need an ID card to confirm your artificial joint, but TSA may need to use a wand or pat you down. Be prepared to experience a short delay but it should not be a serious inconvenience.

Repairing a previous hip joint replacement may require one of several types of surgery. You may need parts of the implanted hip joint (prosthesis) replaced, or you may need the entire implant replaced.

Sometimes repairing or rebuilding the bone around the joint may also be necessary. Your doctor will discuss the details of your particular revision with you.

Learn what to expect with hip revision surgery.

Over time improvements in technology and surgical instruments have allowed incision sizes to be smaller, which may cause less soft tissue damage and allow for faster recovery. Minimally invasive surgery can be accomplished through a single incision or 2 smaller incisions.

The direct anterior approach to hip replacement has gained in popularity over the last few years due to the Internet and marketing. It differs from traditional approaches in that the incision is located on the front of the hip area near the crease of the leg and uses x-ray to access the hip joint between muscle groups. Traditional approaches locate the incision on the side of your hip and the surgeon visually accesses the hip joint by opening a muscle group, repairing it at the end of the surgery.

The touted benefits of the direct anterior approach are not born out in research. In the short term, it has not been shown to reduce the early recovery period by more than a few days and shows no benefit long term. Additionally, research shows that the direct anterior approach may increase the risk of the implant loosening.

There are positives and negatives to all total hip replacement approaches, and no one has been proven to be superior to the others. You should discuss with your doctor the approach they use and why.

Recovering from Surgery

Most of the time, you can expect to be discharged from the hospital the same day or next day after surgery. The majority of your recovery will occur in the first few months, but you will continue to recover for the whole first year following surgery. Patients with medical issues or more complicated surgical procedures may be required to stay in the hospital longer and take longer to recover fully.

A physical therapist will have you out of bed and moving on the day of your surgery. You will use crutches or a walker as you take your first steps.

Pain is handled and experienced very differently by everyone. With improvements in types of anesthesia, various blocks, and the use of a variety of pain medications designed to work together, the pain is typically very manageable after surgery.

A physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your hip and help with your recovery in the hospital, as well as at home, if needed.

Everyone is different, and you will need to discuss the specifics with your doctor. Most patients experience some post surgical pain or discomfort for 4–6 weeks following surgery, but it typically decreases in severity each week.

You should focus on weaning off the pain medication as quickly as you are able. Pain medications have their own set of side effects, some of which can be very difficult to manage. Typically, you will have goal of weaning off prescription pain medications in 2–6 weeks.

Everyone recovers from surgery differently, but typically patients are clear to drive in 2–6 weeks, and—depending on the amount of physical activity your job requires—you can usually return to work 6-12 weeks after the procedure.

You should talk with your doctor before resuming activities like driving or working.

You will experience some pain as a result of the surgery, however the hip pain you had before surgery is usually gone very early in your recovery.

Follow your doctor’s instructions in the early recovery period. Long term care of your hip replacement usually consists of avoiding repetitive, high impact activities, taking antibiotics an hour before dental appointments, maintaining your health, and properly managing any medical issues you may have.

Typically, you should wait a minimum of 3 months before having your other hip replaced. Talk with your doctor to find out what is best for you.

Patient Stories for Hip Replacement

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