8 Surprising Facts About Hip Replacement

  • Cropped image of unseen surgeon holding artificial hip replacement in operating room light
    Hip Replacement Facts You May Not Know
    Hip replacement is one of the most successful surgeries in all of medicine. Fact or fiction? According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, it’s true. And doctors perform the surgery on more than 300,000 Americans every year. That’s a lot of people who find relief from hip pain and return to their active lives. If this surgery might be in your future, here are some hip replacement facts you should know.

  • Middle age Caucasian man playing basketball outdoors with young 10-year-old son
    1. Hip replacement isn’t just for ‘old people.’
    Hip replacement surgery relieves pain and improves mobility in people with diseased or damaged hip joints. Arthritis and hip joint injuries are common causes of these hip problems. And these conditions aren’t limited to older adults. In fact, the rate of total hip replacement in middle-aged adults—45 to 54 years—more than doubled between 2000 and 2010. This age group also accounts for an increasing percentage of total hip replacements. What’s more, adults in this age group had a shorter average hospital stay compared to older adults.

  • Disability accessible home bathroom with grab bars and shower seat
    2. Hip replacement takes preparation.
    Hip replacement surgery will require some preparation. If you’re overweight, you should try to shed some extra pounds before surgery. It will reduce stress on your new joint. Regardless of your weight, you can improve your safety and comfort during your recovery by preparing your home as well. Remove tripping hazards, such as cords and rugs. Upgrade the safety of your bathroom with grab bars, high toilet seats, and a shower bench. Make things convenient by getting a reacher, dressing stick, and long-handled bathing sponge. Your doctor can give you other ideas. Check with your insurance company too, to arrange coverage of a walker or toilet seat ahead of surgery.

  • Close-up of unseen surgeon's gloved hand reaching for surgical instrument
    3. Hip replacement can be minimally invasive.
    New techniques allow doctors to perform hip replacement using minimally invasive surgery. This means you will have a few smaller incisions instead of one large one. It also means you may recover quicker and with less pain than traditional surgery. In general, ideal candidates are thin, young and healthy. You also need to be committed to a thorough rehab program. Talk with your doctor to see if this approach is an option for you.

  • Young African American woman smiling and comforting mother or grandmother in wheelchair
    4. Hip replacement recovery can be lengthy.
    For most people, it takes at least six weeks to return to normal activities, including work. You will need a lot of assistance during this time. You won’t be able to drive. Daily activities will be challenging, especially during the first two weeks. Some people benefit from staying in a rehabilitation center before returning home. This lets them gain more independence to safely transition home. You will be able to perform more and more daily activities as you pass the six-week mark. Full recovery after hip replacement can take up to a year.

  • Older African American man in hospital gown with walker being guided by young Caucasian nurse
    5. You’ll be walking within 24 hours of surgery.
    Walking will be a high priority during recovery, even right after surgery. In the hospital, your nurse will get you up and moving within a day of surgery. However, you won’t be walking on your own. You will use a walker or other support for a few weeks. Gradually, you will be able walk longer, farther, and with more stability. Walking helps prevent blood clots and strengthens your hip as you heal. Walking and rehab exercises will be a daily part of your recovery and your team will give you goals. Meeting those goals will speed your recovery.

  • Older Caucasian male patient at medical checkout desk paying with health insurance
    6. Health insurance usually covers hip replacement.
    Many people wonder about hip replacement cost. Check with your insurance company to find out about your coverage. Most plans will cover a medically necessary hip replacement. This includes Medicare and Medicaid. Your doctor’s office will work with you to provide any necessary paperwork before surgery. Your insurance provider will have information about your out-of-pocket costs. This may include copays, deductibles and co-insurance (your portion of the expense after your copay and meeting your deductible).

  • Older Caucasian couple stretching and exercising in light-filled room at home
    7. Life will be different after a hip replacement.
    A hip replacement can greatly improve your quality of life. Most people return to an active lifestyle with little or no pain and stiffness. But life can be different in other ways as well. High-impact activities are not good for your new hip. If you are a runner or play basketball, you will need to find alternatives. You may also find that your walking gait is different or you have a limp. Physical therapy rehab exercises can help correct this. Being diligent about your exercises will strengthen the supporting muscles and improve your flexibility. Eventually, your gait will feel normal again.

  • Diverse group of three older women outside power walking and laughing
    8. Hip replacements can last for decades.
    Hip implants are mechanical devices, so they can and do wear out. But most last for 15 to 20 years. And you can take steps to prolong the life of your hip implant. Maintaining a healthy weight will keep extra stress off the implant. Avoiding high-impact and contact sports will protect the implant from damage. Staying active and exercising will strengthen your hip muscles and stabilize the implant. It’s also important to see your orthopedic surgeon regularly to monitor the health of the implant.

8 Surprising Hip Replacement Facts | Total Hip Replacement Surgery

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
  1. Activities After Hip Replacement. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/activities-after-hip-replacement/
  2. Alleviating the Limp After Total Hip Replacement. Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/playbook/alleviating-the-limp-after-a-total-hip-replacement/
  3. Documenting Medical Necessity for Major Joint Replacement (Hip and Knee). Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/se1236.pdf
  4. Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery FAQs. Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/conditions_hip-knee-replacement-surgery-faqs.asp
  5. Hip Replacement. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hip-replacement/about/pac-20385042
  6. Hip Replacement Surgery. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/hip-replacement-surgery/advanced
  7. Hip Resurfacing. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/hip-resurfacing/
  8. Hospitalization for Total Hip Replacement Among Inpatients Aged 45 and Over: United States, 2000–2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db186.htm
  9. Minimally Invasive Total Hip Replacement. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/minimally-invasive-total-hip-replacement/
  10. Total Hip Replacement. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-hip-replacement/
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Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.