Hip Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need a hip replacement?
You may need a hip replacement if you have been suffering with hip pain or your hip movement is reduced. Surgery is usually necessary if your hip joint has been damaged or it is worn and is causing hip pain or stiffness, even when relaxing or first thing in the morning. Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for hip replacement surgery. It is the breakdown of your cartilage, that provides the cushioning elements between your joints.
What are the different types of hip replacement?
There are two options for securing your replacement prosthetic parts in hip replacement surgery. They can be cemented or uncemented. Cemented parts are secured using acrylic cement and uncemented parts have rough surfaces that allow your bone to grow on to them and hold them in place.
During your consultation appointment, your surgeon will discuss with you the best option for your individual needs based on your symptoms and diagnosis.
What is hip replacement surgery?
A hip replacement operation, also known as an arthroplasty, is a procedure to replace a damaged hip joint with an artificial one. It usually involves several days in hospital, physiotherapy and exercises after the operation, and a period of recovery and recuperation before you can get back to normal life.
Some patients find their life is transformed as they regain their mobility and independence. Replacement hips typically last for 20 to 30 years. They were once only routinely offered to older people, but are now being used for much younger, more active patients.
If you are experiencing pain in your hips, the first person to talk to is your GP who will advise you on whether a hip replacement is likely to be a treatment option. They can refer you to a consultant orthopaedic surgeon.
How long will I have to wait for a hip replacement operation?
Your hip replacement surgery can be scheduled within two weeks of your consultation appointment if hip replacement surgery is recommended and you are suitable for surgery. You can choose a convenient date to suit your lifestyle and diary.
Before the procedure you will need to arrange a routine appointment with a pre-admission nurse to run through pre-operative assessments.
What does hip replacement surgery involve?
Hip replacement surgery is an operation that replaces your damaged hip with an artificial joint.
Hip replacement surgery is normally performed under general anaesthetic. Your worn joint is replaced with a metal alloy or sometimes a ceramic replacement part. The prosthetic parts can be cemented (secured with acrylic cement) or uncemented (secured by bone growth onto rough surface materials).
How long do I need to stay in hospital?
If you are having total hip replacement surgery you will stay in hospital for up to three days. The length of time depends on your recovery programme and your health. If you are on an enhanced recovery programme and you are a fit and healthy person, your length of stay in hospital may be reduced. Your consultant will discuss this with you.
How long will I need off work?
The amount of time you need off work depends on a number of factors including the nature of your job and your individual recovery rate. Typically, you will be able to return to light work or office duties within six weeks of your surgery.
How long will I need crutches for?
Generally, you should be able to stop using your crutches within four to six weeks,and feel more or less back to normal after three months when you can perform all your normal activities. It's best to avoid extreme movements or sports where there's a risk of falling, such as skiing or riding.
What is the recovery time for hip replacement surgery?
Recovery times differ for individual patients, as their situations vary. Typically, patients return to their normal activities within three to six months.
Short-term recovery is generally achieved within ten to twelve weeks. It involves walking with minimal or no aids and switching from major pain relievers to simple over-the-counter medications.
Long-term recovery is when your surgical wounds and internal soft tissues are completely healed. Many factors can contribute to your recovery time, but typically patients return to normal life activities within three to six months.
How soon can I drive?
You may be able to drive after six weeks post-surgery. First you will need to check with your physiotherapist or consultant as to whether it is safe for you to drive.
What will happen during my hip replacement?
You will be given a general anaesthetic to relax your muscles, enable you to sleep temporarily, and not feel pain. During surgery, you will be laid on your side and supported. An incision will be made enabling your surgeon to remove the painful hip joint and replace it with an artificial joint. You will be in theatre for approximately 60 to 90 minutes. Afterwards you will be taken to the recovery area.
What are the potential complications of a hip replacement?
As with any surgery, there are potential risks and complications that could arise. These include: pain and bleeding following surgery, infection in the surgical wound, blood clots, and loosening of the joint. Your consultant orthopaedic surgeon will discuss any potential risks with you so that you are fully informed before you consent to surgery.
When does physiotherapy start?
Often physiotherapy will start immediately on the first day after hip replacement surgery. It is common to begin some minor exercises while sitting in a chair. Eventually rehabilitation includes stepping, walking, and climbing. Your physiotherapist will monitor your pain whilst you are exercising, with some degree of discomfort being normal.
How long will my new hip last?
A modern artificial hip joint is designed to last for at least fifteen years. Following a hip replacement, most people experience a significant reduction in pain and some improvement in their range of movement.
What are the benefits of surgery?
A successful hip replacement has a number of benefits including: improved mobility, reduction or freedom from pain, and normal everyday activities becoming easier leading to an improved quality of life.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Before considering hip replacement surgery, your consultant will discuss the alternatives. These include: exercise, use of walking aids, and pain medications to help ease stiffness and improve mobility. An exercise programme can help strengthen the muscles around your hip joint. Anti-inflammatory medications are sometimes advised.
Surgery is the last option. There is no timescale for having a hip replacement and surgery can be delayed until you are ready.
Hip replacement surgery costs?
Prices for an uncemented and a cemented hip replacement costs are available here. Please note that these are guide prices. The guide price covers your pre-assessment, surgery and aftercare costs. It does not include your initial consultation or any diagnostic imaging before being listed for surgery. If you decide to proceed with surgery you will be sent a copy of our full terms and conditions.
What other kinds of hip operations, treatments and procedures are available?
As well as total hip replacements, hip arthroscopies are a common procedure for hip pain. A hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your hip surgeon to see inside your hip using a camera inserted through small cuts in your skin. It is used to examine, diagnose and treat problems that are causing pain and/or restricted movement in your hip.
Can I go back to sports after the operation?
Your consultant and physiotherapist will recommend an exercise programme for at least two months following your hip replacement surgery.
As soon as your consultant gives you the go-ahead, you can return to many of the sports activities you enjoyed before your hip replacement. In general, lower impact fitness activities such as swimming and golfing put less stress on your hip joint and are preferable over high-impact exercise.