Your hip replacement questions answered

Jeremy Latham, Specialist Hip Surgeon, answers some common questions about hip replacement. He explains how to recognise when you need to see a doctor, and how hip replacement recovery feels after surgery, should you need it.

How do I know if I have a problem with my hip?

You may have a problem with your hip if you begin to experience discomfort or stiffness, such as a gradual increase in pain in the groin, thigh or buttock. There are even some exercises you can try at home to see if you may need treatment for pain in or around your hip.

If you feel hip pain when you walk, or struggle to put on your socks and shoes without discomfort in the hip area, it’s time to see your doctor.

What should I do if I have an arthritic hip?

If you have an arthritic hip, your doctor may prescribe measures such as losing weight to reduce pressure on the hip, staying active to keep you mobile, and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce your discomfort.

It may be time for a hip replacement if:

  • pain persists or recurs over time
  • your hip aches during and after exercise
  • your hip pain has made sexual intercourse painful
  • you just don't feel as mobile as you'd like to be.

If so, your doctor will examine you and refer you for an X-ray in preparation for hip replacement surgery.

How will I know when I’m ready for hip replacement surgery?

When your pain continually interferes with your everyday life and you can’t go about your daily activities, such as going to work, shopping, cooking, cleaning or even sleeping without painkillers, it’s time for a hip replacement.

What happens after hip replacement surgery?

After hip replacement surgery, you can expect to spend three to four days recovering in hospital. Most patients will be up and walking on crutches or a walking frame straight away and dressing themselves without help.

Each day you’ll feel stronger; any pain you feel as a result of the operation will quickly go away, and most patients say that their post-operative pain is less than the pain they endured before the operation.

On returning home, hip replacement patients are encouraged to exercise. They’ll typically be driving after four weeks and walking freely after six weeks.

Hip replacement patients are naturally tired after surgery, so it’s best not to book up your diary with too many activities for the first six weeks after the operation, and to make sure that you have a lie down two or three times a day.

Will I need physiotherapy after my hip replacement?

Physiotherapy is an essential part of hip replacement recovery, because building up strength in the muscles around your new joint will help you get back to your normal activities.

After your hip replacement surgery, you’ll see a physiotherapist once a week for the first four to six weeks. Your physio will give you clear advice on what you can and can’t do, and guide you towards restoring your mobility and confidence.

Your regular exercise programme may include hydrotherapy sessions. These are excellent for hip replacement recovery because moving in water makes your muscles work harder, while the warmth and weight of the water makes you feel comfortable and supported.

Can hip replacement surgery restore my health?

Hip replacement has transformed the lives of millions of people over the last 60 years. Among the many benefits it brings, hip replacement allows you to enjoy life without painkillers, get fit again, and improve your posture, mobility and confidence – helping you look and feel younger.

For more information about hip replacement, take a look at our hip replacement treatment page.

Interested in hip replacement?

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Last updated Wednesday 26 February 2020