Things to Consider Before Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement surgery is one of the most common joint replacement procedures, exceeded only by knee replacements. Many people have hip arthritis, but it can be difficult to know when the right time to have a hip replacement surgery is. Furthermore, there is confusion about what to expect from hip replacement surgery.

Learn the basics you need to know about hip replacement surgery.

Potential Risks of Hip Replacement Surgery
Verywell / Jessica Olah

Hip Arthritis

The word arthritis means "inflammation of the joint." Most people think of arthritis as the wearing away of cartilage in a joint—this is the end result of inflammation within the joint. Over time, the inflammation can lead to cartilage loss and exposed bone, instead of a normal, smooth joint surface.

The most common type of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is often referred to as "wear-and-tear" arthritis, and it results in the wearing away of the normally smooth cartilage until bare bone is exposed. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis, and lupus arthritis.

Are You Ready for Hip Replacement?

Man talking with doctor
John Fedele / Getty Images

Hip replacement surgery is performed when the hip joint has reached a point when painful symptoms can no longer be controlled with non-operative treatments. In a hip replacement procedure, your surgeon removes the damaged joint surface and replaces it with an artificial implant.

A total hip replacement is a major surgery, and deciding to have the surgery done is a big decision. You have to consider whether you're too young for a hip replacement and if you're likely to need to have it redone.

But there can be consequences in delaying joint replacement surgery. As well, older age is a concern and may be an exclusion factor for a hip replacement.


assorted white pills
Sigrid Gombert / Getty Images

Treatment of hip arthritis should begin with the most basic options and progress to the more involved, which may include surgery. Not all treatments are appropriate for every patient.

Hip replacement is generally reserved for patients who have tried all of the other treatments and are still left with significant pain during normal activities. Patients who have occasional pain, are able to participate in athletic activities, or have not tried non-operative treatments are probably not ready for a hip replacement.

Non-operative treatment options might include:

Hip resurfacing might be used as an alternative in younger patients (those under age 60).

How Long Do Replacements Last?

Hip replacement, illustration

Most patients understand that hip replacements can wear out over time, but exactly how long is a hip replacement supposed to last? Estimates vary depending on the studies, but they can last anywhere between 15 to 25 years.

Hip Replacement Implants

doctor looking at hip hardware and an x ray
Alexander Manton / Getty Images

Hip replacement surgery removes the damaged joint lining and replaces the joint surfaces with an artificial implant that functions similar to a normal hip. The typical implant is made of metal (stainless steel or titanium), and older types had a plastic spacer in between the metal ball and socket.

These implants will wear out over time. Hip replacements are done infrequently in younger patients because of the concern of the implant wearing out too quickly.

New materials have been tried in order to provide the best possible functioning with long-lasting results. Some newer implants such as ceramic hip replacements have promise, others may not turn out to be better.

Steps of Replacement Surgery

Doctor consulting her patient
Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

When a hip replacement is performed, the bone and cartilage on the ball-and-socket hip joint is removed. This is performed using precise instruments to create surfaces that can accommodate the implant perfectly. An artificial hip replacement implant is then placed in to function as a new hip joint.

Not every hip replacement surgery is performed in exactly the same way. Variations in technique exist which allow surgeons to perform this procedure slightly differently. However, the basic steps of performing a hip replacement are relatively unchanged. Variations include the anterior approach hip replacement and the mini-hip replacement.


blood clot
Rolf Ritter / Getty Images

Hip replacement surgery has become quite common, but there are still risks. Fortunately, about 85% of patients who undergo hip replacement surgery have good results after 20 years.

You should have a thoughtful discussion with your doctor prior to hip replacement surgery and make sure to have your questions answered.

Potential risks of hip replacement surgery include:

It is important to understand the possible risks of surgery for a variety of reasons. By understanding what could possibly go wrong, you can keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of a complication of hip replacement surgery. Often, if these problems are identified early, steps can be taken to prevent them from becoming more severe.


Physical therapist working with patient
Jeannot Olivet / Getty Images

Hip replacement surgery is usually very successful, but the success of the procedure is partly due to the rehabilitation period that follows the surgery. For patients to expect a good result from hip replacement surgery, they must be an active rehab participant.

Rehabilitation after hip replacement begins immediately. Patients will work with a physical therapist as soon as the surgical procedure has been performed.

The emphasis in the early stages of rehab is to maintain the motion of the hip replacement and to ensure that the patient can walk safely. A physical therapist can teach you important skills that help you move around, climbs stairs, getting in and out of the car, without risk to be replaced if joint or causing significant pain.

As rehabilitation moves along to later phases, your therapist will help restore normal gait mechanics, the strength of the lower extremities, and mobility of your new hip joint. By participating in an active therapeutic recovery, you can resume your presurgical level of activity, and you may even be able to surpass that level of activity.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Total joint replacement. Updated June 2014.

  2. Loeser RF, Goldring SR, Scanzello CR, Goldring MB. Osteoarthritis: A disease of the joint as an organArthritis Rheum. 2012;64(6):1697-1707. doi:10.1002/art.34453

  3. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Hip osteoarthritis. 2019.

  4. Bayliss LE, Culliford D, Monk AP, et al. The effect of patient age at intervention on risk of implant revision after total replacement of the hip or knee: a population-based cohort study. Lancet. 2017;389(10077):1424-1430. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30059-4

  5. Boniello AJ, Simon MS, Emenari CC, Courtney PM. Complications and mortality following total hip arthroplasty in the octogenarians: An analysis of a national database. J Arthroplasty. 2018;33(7S):S167-S171. doi:10.1016/j.arth.2017.08.030

  6. Bannuru RR, Osani MC, Vaysbrot EE, et al. OARSI guidelines for the non-surgical management of knee, hip, and polyarticular osteoarthritis. Osteoarthr Cartil. 2019;27(11):1578-1589. doi:10.1016/j.joca.2019.06.011

  7. Evans JT, Evans JP, Walker RW, Blom AW, Whitehouse MR, Sayers A. How long does a hip replacement last? A systematic review and meta-analysis of case series and national registry reports with more than 15 years of follow-upLancet. 2019;393(10172):647-654. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31665-9

  8. Hu CY, Yoon TR. Recent updates for biomaterials used in total hip arthroplastyBiomater Res. 2018;22:33. doi:10.1186/s40824-018-0144-8

  9. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Total hip replacement. Updated August 2015.

  10. Zhang X, Shi G, Sun X, Zheng W, Lin X, Chen G. Factors influencing the outcomes of artificial hip replacements. Cells Tissues Organs (Print). 2018;206(4-5):254-262. doi:10.1159/000500518