Total Joint Replacement
Lifespan Orthopedics Institute

Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip pain can limit your ability to do everyday tasks and to enjoy leisure activities. Putting on your shoes is a challenge, and taking a long walk on the beach is out of the question.

If non-surgical approaches such as physical therapy, losing weight, modifying your activities, or taking anti-inflammatory medications no longer give you relief, it’s time to discuss with your doctor whether hip replacement surgery is right for you.

When considering hip replacement surgery, it’s important to know that the Total Joint Center achieves clinical and quality outcomes that rank among the best in the nation.

Bikini Incision Anterior Approach for Total Hip Replacement

Eric M. Cohen, MD describes this unique alternative that provides better healing and a more cosmetically pleasing result. 

How Does a Normal Hip Work?

The hip, a very stable ball-and-socket joint, is one of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body. The femoral head (ball) at the top of the femur (thighbone) fits into the acetabulum (a rounded socket) in the pelvis. Tissues called ligaments connect the ball to the socket and, along with muscles, hold the joint in place.

Cartilage, a layer of smooth, rubbery tissue, covers the surface of the bones. It allows the ball to rotate easily in the socket. Fluid-filled sacs called bursae cushion the area where muscles or tendons glide across bone. The capsule surrounding the joint also has a lining (synovium) that secretes lubricating fluid, further reducing friction and easing movement.

What Causes Hip Pain?

Common conditions that can cause deterioration of the hip joint and debilitating hip pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • General wear and tear
  • Trauma

Arthritis or other damage to the hip joint can contribute to leg and back pain, mobility issues, weakness, and difficulty sleeping.

What is Hip Replacement Surgery?

Total hip replacement is an operation in which the orthopedic surgeon removes the bone and cartilage of a damaged hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint (prosthesis).

The ball and socket of the implant mimic the structure and function of the natural hip joint.

Hip replacement followed by rehabilitative therapy typically benefits people who have significant damage to the hip joint, alleviating their pain and restoring range of motion.

During hip replacement surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged bone and cartilage and substitutes a prosthetic joint made of high-tech metal and durable plastic or ceramic. The implant consists of a ball with a stem that is placed into the femur (thighbone), and a cup-shaped component that is inserted into the pelvis. 

The ball on the femur rotates within the cup, allowing the hip to function smoothly and without pain. The precise positioning of the implant components in the patient's pelvis and femur results in accurate joint alignment that simulates a healthy hip and allows the leg to move freely within its normal range of motion.

Hip replacement surgery typically takes between one and two hours. 

How Long Does Recovery from Hip Replacement Surgery Take?

Because of advances in surgical techniques, anesthesia, and post-surgical practices, patients are able to move about and begin rehabilitation sooner after their surgery than ever before. This contributes to more rapid hip replacement surgery recovery and shorter hospital stays.

After this kind of hip surgery, patients typically stay in the hospital for one night. Those who are assessed to be good candidates for an outpatient procedure may have a short hospital stay of less than 24 hours.

After a short hospital stay, patients receive nursing services and physical therapy at home. At your initial pre-admission testing evaluation, you will be screened with the Risk Assessment and Prediction Tool to determine if a short stay is right for you.

Soon after your hip replacement surgery, a physical therapist will visit to help you get moving. The therapist will review your exercise program and ensure that you can get in and out of bed, up from a chair, and into the restroom; dress yourself; and walk typical household distances with mobility aids such as walkers or crutches.

You may be taught special precautions to take when sitting, bending, or sleeping — usually for the first six weeks after surgery — to protect your repaired hip while it heals.

You’ll be ready for light everyday activities within three to six weeks following your hip replacement operation. It’s normal to feel some discomfort after activity and at night for several weeks.

Your physician will tell you when you may resume low-impact sports, such as swimming, golf, hiking, biking, or dancing. Most surgeons will recommend that you avoid running, jogging, jumping, or other high-impact sports.

Typically, patients resume driving two to three weeks after surgery.

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