Hip Replacement Surgery: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Mobility

Hip Replacement Surgery: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Mobility

Hip pain can be debilitating, hindering even the simplest daily tasks. If conservative treatments like medication and physical therapy haven't provided relief, hip replacement surgery might be the answer. This guide delves into everything you need to know about hip replacement, from understanding the procedure to navigating recovery.

What is Hip Replacement Surgery?

Hip replacement surgery, also known as total hip arthroplasty, replaces a damaged hip joint with artificial implants. It's typically performed on adults after other treatments have failed to alleviate pain and improve mobility. During surgery, the surgeon removes the worn-out sections of your hip joint and replaces them with prosthetic components, usually crafted from a combination of metal, ceramic, and high-grade plastic. This artificial joint aims to reduce pain and restore movement in your hip.

Conditions Leading to Hip Replacement

Several conditions can necessitate hip replacement surgery. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Osteoarthritis: This condition wreaks havoc on the smooth cartilage cushioning your bones, leading to painful friction during movement.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: An autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis triggers inflammation that can erode cartilage and bone, ultimately damaging and deforming joints like the hip.

  • Osteonecrosis: When blood flow to the ball portion of your hip joint is compromised, the bone can collapse and deform, potentially requiring hip replacement.

Symptoms That Might Signal Hip Replacement Need

Experiencing some of the following symptoms could indicate a condition treatable with hip replacement:

  • Pain in the front of your hip or groin

  • Discomfort in the buttock and trochanteric area (outer hip)

  • Pain that worsens when putting weight on the affected leg

  • Stiffness or tightness in the hip

  • Reduced range of motion

  • Difficulty sleeping comfortably

  • Challenges with walking

  • Trouble putting on shoes and socks

  • Pain during activity and even at rest

Types of Hip Replacement Surgery

There are two primary types of hip replacement surgery:

  • Total Hip Replacement: This procedure replaces both the femoral head (ball of the thighbone) and the acetabulum (socket in the pelvis) with prosthetics.

  • Partial Hip Replacement: This surgery replaces only the femoral head, typically used for specific types of hip fractures.

Post-Surgery Dos and Don'ts for Optimal Healing

Hip replacement surgery is a significant procedure, and proper recovery is crucial. Here's a helpful list of dos and don'ts to safeguard your new hip during the healing phase:


  • Cross your legs at the knees for at least 6-8 weeks.

  • Lift your knee higher than your hip.

  • Lean forward while sitting or getting into a seated position.

  • Attempt to pick something up from the floor while sitting.

  • Excessively turn your feet inward or outward when bending down.

  • Reach down to pull blankets up while lying in bed.

  • Bend at the waist beyond 90 degrees.


  • Keep your leg facing forward.

  • Lead with the affected leg when sitting or standing.

  • Utilize a high kitchen or barstool for added comfort.

  • Apply ice packs (with your doctor's approval) to reduce pain and swelling. Remember, ice numbs the area, so apply it with a towel to avoid direct skin contact.

  • Use heat (with your doctor's go-ahead) before exercise to improve range of motion. Apply a heating pad or a hot, damp towel for 15-20 minutes.

  • Reduce exercise intensity if your muscles get sore, but don't stop exercising altogether.

Essential Recovery Tips:

  • Safe Sitting and Standing: Use your bed or chair for support until your knees comfortably touch the surface. Reach back for armrests and slowly lower yourself into a seated position, avoiding bending forward at your waist.

  • Car and Airplane Travel: Opt for cars with higher seats and avoid sports cars with low seating. Take breaks every 45-60 minutes to walk and stretch your ankles. When flying, request an aisle seat and keep your surgical leg extended in the aisle. Board last for a smoother transition.

  • Entering a Car: Fully recline the passenger seat before entering. Park on a level surface or near a ramp. Use a walking aid to approach the car, back up to the seat, hold onto the door frame or headrest with one hand, and place the other hand on the car seat or dashboard. Slowly lower yourself down and slide back before swinging your legs in, one at a time, keeping your toes pointed upwards and avoiding crossing your legs.

  • Climbing Stairs: Your physical therapist will instruct you on the proper technique using handrails or crutches. Remember,, lead with your good leg first, followed by the crutches and then the surgical leg when going up. To descend, use the crutches and surgical leg first, followed by the good leg.

Safe Bathroom Use and Bathing After Surgery

If your bathroom is far from your bedroom, consider using a portable toilet or urinal for easier access. Avoid bathtubs and overhead showers initially. Opt for a walk-in shower or sponge baths for the first 11 days post-surgery to minimize the risk of falls.

Medical Equipment to Aid Recovery

Several medical devices can enhance your hip replacement recovery journey:

  • Hospital Beds: These adjustable beds provide crucial elevation and support for post-surgical comfort. They come in manual or motorized options, with varying functionalities like head and foot elevation, bed height adjustment, and Trendelenburg positioning (tilting the bed for improved circulation).

  • Wheelchairs: These mobility aids, either self-propelled or attendant-operated, can significantly improve your ability to get around and complete daily tasks. Options include manual or motorized wheelchairs, commode wheelchairs specifically designed for toileting, transfer wheelchairs for safe patient transfers, and bariatric wheelchairs for patients with higher weight capacities.

  • Oxygen Machines: Depending on your oxygen needs, your doctor might prescribe a BiPAP, CPAP, or oxygen concentrator machine to maintain adequate oxygen levels during recovery.

  • Suction Machines: These devices help remove fluids or secretions, such as mucus, vomit, or blood, from your body cavities like the lungs, mouth, or skull, if necessary.

Remember, this guide provides a general overview. Always consult your doctor for personalized advice and a smooth hip replacement recovery journey.