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What to Expect with a Total Hip Replacement

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If you’re planning a total hip replacement surgery, you’re certainly not alone. More than 330,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the U.S. alone.

This surgery is often performed if your hip has been damaged by a fracture, arthritis, or other issue. If medicine doesn’t provide enough relief, you may find everyday activities painful and difficult.

If you and your doctor agree that a total hip replacement is your best option to help you regain your mobility and relief from pain, you can often expect the following:

Before the surgery

Your doctor will review the medications you take, since some, like aspirin, may need to be stopped a week before surgery. You may also be asked to start an exercise program (if you can) to strengthen yourself as much as possible before surgery.

Your doctor may also perform blood tests to ensure that you don’t have a condition such as an infection or illness that could cause problems during surgery.

During surgery

Your anesthesiologist will determine what type of sedation is best for you. During surgery, the cartilage and bone of your hip joint are replaced with artificial materials and secured by your orthopedic surgeon. Many different designs and materials can be used, but they’re all made up of the basic ball-and-socket design that exists in your natural hip.

Stitches or staples will be used around your wound, and the surgery usually takes several hours to complete.

After the surgery

You’ll probably stay in the hospital for about three to five days. You may feel pain, but medication will be provided to help you feel more comfortable. Your healthcare team will probably encourage you to start moving as soon as you are able. The day after your surgery, a physical therapist will probably help you start to stand and walk with an assistive device such as a walking cane.

About two weeks after surgery, your stitches or staples will be removed. Try to avoid getting your surgery site wet until it’s thoroughly healed.

It’s important to follow your healthcare team’s instructions after your surgery, since this will help you recover as quickly and easily as possible. You may also want to use a walking cane or other device to help you at home.

For more information about total hip replacement, read a Question and Answer Guide provided by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

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