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Total Hip Replacement: All You Need to Know


Total hip replacement, or total hip arthroplasty, is the surgical removal of damaged hip joint portions and then replacing them with prosthetic implants. Orthopedic surgeons perform it as a means to treat hip conditions that cause debilitating symptoms, such as severe hip pain.

According to studies, total hip replacement has a 90% success rate and can last up to 10 years or longer. Currently, there are about 1 million hip replacements performed each year in the US, bringing immediate relief from hip pain and other symptoms. 

So if you are one of the many patients scheduled to have your hip arthroplasty, then there’s nothing to worry about. At Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center, you are in safe and expert hands. 

On this page, we’ll provide you with information about what to expect before, during, and after your procedure.

Why do you need a total hip replacement?

Physicians typically recommend a total hip replacement for individuals with degenerative conditions that affect the hip joints. Some examples include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteonecrosis, tumor, and severe hip fracture. 

These conditions usually come with symptoms that can be tolerable at first, but may tend to become debilitating over time. Doctors typically recommend total hip replacement to patients experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Moderate to severe hip pain.
  • Pain that worsens during movement and simple activity.
  • Severe swelling and stiffness in the hip joints affect normal mobility.
  • Symptoms that do not get better with conservative treatment options.
  • Reduced quality of life due to severe symptoms. 

If you are suffering from these symptoms on a daily basis, then you may be a good candidate for a total hip replacement surgery. There are no age nor weight restrictions when it comes to this procedure. However, you will be thoroughly evaluated by your physician to make sure that you’re healthy enough to undergo the operation.

How do you prepare for your surgery?

Your orthopedic specialist will conduct preoperative examinations to gauge whether you’re fit to undergo a total hip replacement. Some tests you may encounter include the following:

  • Medical history review to know all the details about your current health state. They  may ask you about current chronic illnesses or medications you are taking
  • Complete physical examination to assess one’s current hip mobility, alignment, and strength.
  • Blood tests and other diagnostic procedures include a urine exam, ECG, and chest X-ray. This also lets physicians get insights into any underlying medical condition that might complicate the procedure.

Patients should also plan their social, work, and home arrangements during recovery. They may need to take a leave off work, make minor home modifications, or have someone over to help them with simple tasks.

How is total hip replacement performed?

A total hip replacement has various types, approaches, and techniques. Your orthopedic specialist will recommend the most suitable option based on your specific circumstances. Some considerations doctors need to think about include the following: 

  • What hip joint parts need to be replaced? It can either be a total (replacing both ball and socket) or partial (replacing only the ball part) hip replacement procedure.
  • What is the best approach to accessing the hip joint? It can either be an anterior, posterior, or lateral approach.
  • What is the best incision technique to use? It can either be a minimally invasive surgery (tiny incision) or traditional hip surgery.

An anesthesiologist will put you under general or epidural anesthesia during the procedure so you won’t feel any pain. Your operating surgeon will put you in an appropriate position that will give them the best access to your affected hip joint. 

  • The surgery will start by making an incision on the hip area. 
  • They will then remove the diseased bones, cartilage, and ligament and leave the healthy bone structures intact.
  • Next, the artificial implants will be placed into the pelvic bone, such as the metal stem and socket. The implants may also be made up of ceramic, plastic, or a combination of all three.
  • The surgeon will move the leg to see if the prosthetics work and function normally. 
  • Afterward, the surgeon will stitch up the tissues and close the incision.

After the procedure, the patient will be transferred into a recovery room to let you rest and wait until the anesthesia wears off. A healthcare professional will monitor your vital signs while you recover.

Total hip replacement procedures usually take at least 1 to 2 hours. The duration of the operation will depend on a lot of factors, such as the severity of the patient’s condition and the technique to be used.

What can you expect during the recovery?

Most total hip replacements are performed in an outpatient setting, which means you can go home on the day of your surgery. You will be required to have someone take you home from the facility and accompany you while you recover. 

Some of the things you should keep in mind during your recovery period include the following:

  • It is important to rest during your recovery period, but it’s also crucial to perform light movements, such as sitting up and walking with crutches, to prevent blood clots.
  • You’ll be required to wear compression stockings to maintain the proper amount of pressure in the hip joint. You’ll also be given assistive devices to manage your recovery at home.
  • You’ll need to undergo physical therapy immediately after the surgery. This will help strengthen your leg muscles and allow the body to get used to the new hip joint. More importantly, physiotherapy can significantly hasten recovery and ensure the success of the procedure.
  • Ensure regular pain medications and proper wound care.
  • Your doctor will prohibit you from certain activities as you recover, such as heavy lifting, vigorous exercises, driving, and working. But they will clear you once they see progress in your healing.

Normally, patients take at least 3 to 6 weeks before they can resume their light and normal day-to-day activities. Most individuals can start feeling like themselves again and go back into their routine after 10 to 12 weeks.

Frequently asked questions about total hip replacement

Is the surgery painful?

No. You won’t feel anything during the procedure due to the anesthesia. However, it is normal to feel pain and discomfort after the anesthesia wears off. Your doctor will give you pain medications to help reduce pain and swelling. 

What are the risks of total hip replacement?

Like any other surgery, total hip replacement comes with a few health risks. This includes infection, blood clots, leg length inequality, dislocation, and loosening and implant wear.  

Is it possible for the implants to get dislocated?

Dislocation can happen, especially after the first few months after the surgery. However, cases are uncommon since they rarely happen, especially if the patient followed recovery instructions and diligently underwent physical therapy. 

How to prevent injury after total hip replacement?

Individuals who have undergone a total hip replacement should follow specific lifetime precautions to prevent injury. This includes avoiding heavy lifting, too much weight bearing, vigorous activities, and specific positions that can trigger dislocation and other types of injury. 

surgery centers raleigh nc

Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center – The leading outpatient surgery center for orthopedic injuries and conditions

Raleigh Orthopedic Surgery Center is one of the leading providers of orthopedic care in the state. We provide a wide range of high-quality treatment services and offer individualized options for each patient.  Our board-certified orthopedic specialists can help you explore and choose the right treatment option that will suit your needs. 

Contact us now to get excellent patient and medical care provided by one of the best surgery centers in Raleigh, NC.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.