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Hip replacement

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Apr 12, 2024.

Overview

During hip replacement, a surgeon removes the damaged sections of the hip joint and replaces them with parts usually constructed of metal, ceramic and very hard plastic. This artificial joint (prosthesis) helps reduce pain and improve function.

Also called total hip arthroplasty, hip replacement surgery might be an option if hip pain interferes with daily activities and nonsurgical treatments haven't helped or are no longer effective. Arthritis damage is the most common reason to need hip replacement.

Artificial hip

Hip prostheses are designed to mimic the ball-and-socket action of your hip joint. During hip replacement surgery, your surgeon removes the diseased or damaged parts of your hip joint and inserts the artificial joint.

Why it's done

Conditions that can damage the hip joint, sometimes making hip replacement surgery necessary, include:

Hip replacement may be an option if hip pain:

Risks

Risks associated with hip replacement surgery can include:

Need for second hip replacement

The artificial hip parts might wear out eventually, especially for people who have hip replacement surgery when they're relatively young and active. If this happens, you might need a second hip replacement. However, new materials are making implants last longer.

How you prepare

Before the operation, you'll have an exam with the orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon may:

During this appointment, ask any questions you have about the procedure. Be sure to find out which medications you should avoid or continue to take in the week before surgery.

Because tobacco use can interfere with healing, it's best to stop using tobacco products. If you need help to quit, talk to your doctor.

What you can expect

When you check in for your surgery, you'll be asked to remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You'll be given either a spinal block, which numbs the lower half of your body, or a general anesthetic, which puts you into a sleep-like state.

Your surgeon might also inject a numbing medicine around nerves or in and around the joint to help block pain after your surgery.

During the procedure

The surgical procedure can be completed within two hours. To perform a hip replacement, the surgeon:

After the procedure

After surgery, you'll be moved to a recovery area for a few hours while your anesthesia wears off. Medical staff will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, alertness, pain or comfort level, and your need for medications.

You'll be asked to breathe deeply, cough or blow into a device to help keep fluid out of your lungs. How long you stay after surgery depends on your individual needs. Many people can go home that same day.

Blood clot prevention

After hip replacement surgery, you'll temporarily be at increased risk of blood clots in your legs. Possible measures to prevent this complication include:

Physical therapy

Daily activity and exercise can help you regain the use of your joint and muscles. A physical therapist can recommend strengthening and mobility exercises and can help you learn how to use a walking aid, such as a walker, a cane or crutches. As therapy progresses, you'll gradually increase the amount of weight you put on your leg until you're able to walk without assistance.

Home recovery

Before you leave the hospital, you and your caregivers will get tips on caring for your new hip. For a smooth transition:

Results

Full recovery from a hip replacement varies from person to person, but most people are doing well three months after the surgery. Improvements typically continue during the first year after surgery.

The new hip joint can reduce pain and increase the hip's range of motion. But don't expect to do everything you could do before the hip became painful.

High-impact activities, such as running or playing basketball, might be too stressful on the artificial joint. But in time, most people can participate in lower-impact activities — such as swimming, golfing and bicycle riding.

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