Hip Replacement - FAQs

If you’re considering hip replacement surgery, you probably have lots of questions. At the St. Elizabeth Total Joint Center, we want to help you understand the process from beginning to end and understand the impact the surgery and recovery will have on your day-to-day life. Our Orthopaedic team is here to talk with you and answer any of your questions. These are some frequently asked questions about total hip replacement surgery.

How long will my surgery take?

The surgery usually takes an hour, but can take longer if your condition is more complicated. 

What types of materials are used with hip replacements?

There are three parts included in a total hip replacement; they can be made of metal, ceramic and plastic:

  • A cup and liner replace the hip socket
  • A metal or ceramic ball replaces the ball at the top of your femur (thigh bone)
  • A stem replaces the neck of the femur

How long will I be in the hospital?

You will be able to go home the same day if the same-day hip replacement surgery is an option for you. If it’s not, most people are in the hospital 1-2 nights after surgery. The length of time you will be in the hospital varies depending on your condition. Some patients go to a skilled nursing facility for a period of time for continued care before going home.

What are the risks and potential complications of hip replacement surgery?

Infection and blood clots are potential complications, but there are medications and procedures that help prevent them. There is also a risk for dislocation of your new joint. You can reduce that risk by making sure you’re fully recovered and have your doctor’s approval before getting back to all of your regular activities. You should discuss potential complications with your surgeon before surgery.

Do I have other treatment options for hip pain besides surgery?

Sometimes injections, such as steroids or anti-inflammatory medications can help you put off surgery, but you should talk to your physician about non-surgical treatment options. Different braces and therapies may also give you short-term pain relief.

What are my risks if I don’t have the surgery?

Further damage to the joint may require a more complex surgery and longer recovery time down the road. Talk with your doctor about your condition and your specific risks.

How should I prepare for surgery?

Losing weight, if needed, to relieve pressure on joints is always high on your doctor's list. Quitting smoking and diabetes control are also important. Your doctor can give you other ways to help increase the success of your surgery.

How much pain can I expect and how can I manage it?

The pain you had from arthritis before surgery will be gone after surgery. You will have surgical/muscle pain after surgery for some time. As you heal and your muscles get stronger, the pain will decrease. However, pain differs with each patient.

What should I expect in the way of rehabilitation?

A successful hip replacement takes being committed to putting in the time and energy needed for rehabilitation. Rehab will begin in the hospital, usually the day of surgery. You’ll have exercises to continue at home. Some patients continue outpatient physical therapy for up to several weeks to strengthen the muscles around the new hip joint.

Will I be asleep during the surgery?

General anesthesia is an option for hip replacement surgery, however, sometimes a spinal injection with less anesthesia is used instead. You may also receive a nerve block, which helps with the pain from the surgery. Your anesthesiologist will talk to you about the different options.

What equipment will I need?

You may need a walker for a short time following surgery, which we will provide while you are in the hospital. If you don’t have one to use at home, we can help you get one. You may progress to crutches while in the hospital. If so, we’ll provide crutches for you to take home.

Will my leg be a different length?

Leg length discrepancy is rare. Your surgeon works diligently to avoid this complication. In cases where patients feel there is a change, that perception usually disappears over several months as muscles and tissues stretch.

When can I drive again?

Usually, you’ll be able to drive again within four-six weeks, maybe sooner if the new joint is in your left leg. Never drive if you’re still taking prescription pain medication. 

Will I need someone at home with me after surgery?

Yes, you will need help at home for 4-5 days.

Will I be able to go up and down stairs after surgery?

If you do need to use stairs, our Physical Therapists will show you how to negotiate them safely. It is always better to avoid stairs for the first week or two if possible.

How soon can I shower after surgery?

Showering is determined by the type of dressing your surgeon uses. You will be instructed on when to shower upon discharge.

Will I be able to cross my legs after surgery?

While your hip heals, you need to avoid crossing your legs. 

How long does my hip replacement last?

Thanks to improvements in techniques and materials, new hip implants typically last 15-20 years for most people.

If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at askortho@stelizabeth.com.