Frequently Asked Questions about Hip Disorders & Treatments
The following frequently asked questions are an overview of some of the
most commonly asked questions regarding hip disorders and procedures.
The orthopaedic surgeons and care team at the Valley Hip & Knee Institute
will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have about your
Questions? Call us at 818.708.9090
Hip Surgery FAQs
How do I determine if hip replacement surgery is the best option for me?
One of the most common reasons for hip replacement surgery is to provide
relief from severe osteoarthritis pain or other disorders that limit a
person's mobility or negatively impact their quality of life. In such
cases, usually the pain has not improved in response to other nonsurgical
treatment options. Hip replacement surgery, involving implants, is usually
performed in people age 60 and older. Hip implants can wear out over time,
especially in individuals who have more active lifestyles or who live
longer. If a second hip replacement is needed in the future, it may not
result in the same outcome as the first procedure.
Because hip disorders are not life-threatening, hip replacement surgery
or resurfacing procedures are considered "elective" operations. As with
any surgery, hip procedures carry the risk of side-effects and complications.
The decision of whether or not to undergo hip surgery is personal for
every patient, and only you can make that decision. As a rule, most patients
decide to have surgery if/when the benefits outweigh the risks.
Here are some facts that may help in making your decision:
- Once you have osteoarthritis in the hip, it will never get better. It will
generally worsen over time. There are no exercises, diets, or supplements
that will cure it.
- The rate of further hip deterioration differs greatly from person to person.
The related pain also can vary. Some people are willing to live with a
certain degree of pain, while others may find it unbearable.
- You may believe that it is better to delay a hip operation in the hopes
that hip replacement technology will improve with time. However, the rate
of progress in this area is slow, so this option is something best considered
if you are young, or if your arthritis or pain is mild and you can easily
live with your symptoms.
- Many patients who have a hip replacement experience no major complications
that leave them in any way dissatisfied with their implant.
- Arguments against waiting too long include: a) osteoarthritis has the potential
to make your bones progressively softer and your muscles progressively
weaker over time, and b) if your pain and disability are not responding
to conservative measures, it is likely that you will need hip surgery
at some point in the future. Why not be pain-free sooner?
Reasons why hip surgery may not be the best option for you include:
- Morbid obesity (body weight greater than 300 lbs.)
- Persistent infections
- Heart or lung problems that make major surgery more risky
If you are still in doubt about having hip surgery after consultation with
an orthopaedic surgeon, a second opinion may give you the reassurance
you need. Discussing your concerns with your family physician or primary
doctor, rheumatologist, and/or other individuals who also have undergone
hip surgery may also be beneficial.
What personal health information should I share with my orthopaedic surgeon
when being evaluated for hip surgery?
It is essential that your orthopaedic surgeon be informed about your complete
medical history including medications, past illnesses and operations,
any problems you may have had with your kidneys, allergies, and any known
sensitivities to metal (for example, if you have had any reactions when
wearing jewelry, watches, or metal-frame glasses).
What kind of recovery and mobility should I expect after hip replacement surgery?
After undergoing a hip replacement procedure, it is reasonable to expect
that you will be able to resume your usual lifestyle, but without the
hip pain. However, this will take time, as your body needs to be given
the chance to heal properly to ensure your best possible outcome.
Recovery time will vary from patient to patient, and depends on each patient's
age, the procedure performed, the patient's general health, and other
factors. In most cases, patients will use a walker or crutches for several
weeks after the operation, and transition to using a cane outdoors and
no support at home.
How much pain will I be in when recovering from a hip replacement procedure?
The level of discomfort varies from person to person, but patients most
report minimal pain between 48 and 72 hours after their operation (provided
they are taking their prescribed medication and are following their doctor's
instructions). Patients also need to follow their prescribed physical
therapy regimen. Patients typically use prescription pain medication for
about a month after surgery before switching to over-the-counter pain
What kind of assistance will I need during my recovery? Will I need physical therapy?
Patients will need help standing, as well as when using stairs, for at
least the first week after hip replacement surgery. Patients also will
need some help with bathing, dressing, cooking, shopping, and housework
for a couple of weeks. Therefore, it is recommended that a friend, family
member, or someone from a home health service be available to assist patients
when they go home. A physical therapist will typically visit the patient
two to three times a week to design and implement a home exercise program;
the patient will eventually be able to do these exercises with no assistance.
When can I drive?
Hip replacement patients should wait 4 to 6 weeks before driving, especially
if the procedure was performed on the right hip. Patients should also
discontinue their prescription pain medication before driving is resumed.
When can I go back to work?
Determining when a hip replacement patient can return to work depends on
the type of job he or she performs. If the job is does not require active
movement, the patient may be able to return to work in about one month.
For more active jobs, the patient may need up to 3 months before returning
to full-time duty. It's important to note these times can vary from person
to person and job to job.