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What's it like: To get hip replacement surgery

Joint degeneration from age, wear or disease can drive a doctor's decision to replace your hip joint. Learn what the surgery and recovery is like.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: February 24, 2013 at 1:12 am •  Published: February 24, 2013

What are the risk factors?

Bleeding is always a risk of surgery. About one in three hip replacement patients need a blood transfusion. Blood clots and infection are also a risk.

About one in 300 patients might suffer from a deep infection. If a deep infection occurs, your surgeon will treat the infection and redo the surgery. This process can take three to six months.

Between 1 percent and 8 percent of patients dislocate their new hip, depending on which study you read. To prevent this from occurring, someone at the hospital should work with you to teach you what not to do. You might also undergo physical therapy after the surgery.

It's important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recalled some metal-on-metal hip implants. It's important to talk with your doctor and ask any questions you might have about the implant.

What's the recovery time?

You'll be in the hospital about four days. During this time, nurses and other medical professionals will educate you and work with you to best understand your new hip.

After you leave the hospital, you should be able to drive again after about two weeks if the replacement was in your right leg. If it was in your left leg, you should be able to drive once you're off narcotics.

After about three weeks, you should be able to return to work for limited duty. Like any implant, a hip implant is made for low-impact activities. You will be limited in some high-impact activities, such as basketball or running.

If you have a job that requires lots of movement, such as construction work, you could be limited because of the surgery.

After about eight weeks, you should be walking pretty well.

What's the follow-up?

Your doctor will want to see you shortly after surgery and then periodically throughout the year after your surgery. After about a year, your doctor might ask you to call him or her if you experience any problems.

Some patients might need their other hip replaced. This varies from person to person and depends on what other medical conditions the patient suffers from.

Sources: Dr. Robert German, an orthopedic surgeon at McBride Orthopedic Hospital; The Mayo Clinic; The National Institutes of Health; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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