From the Blog

How do you know when it's time for a hip replacement

This article is part of the Essential Guide to Hip Pain Relief.

Your hip hurts when you get our of the chair. Walking for any length of time causes pain in your hip. It is difficult to put on and tie your shoes because your hip is painful and inflexible. You are not alone! Hip pain is a very common issue for people.


Hip pain can be treated with medicine and physical therapy but sometimes that isn't enough and a doctor may recommend a hip replacement. Learn when to call the doctor, what to expect if hip replacement is in your future, and recovery tips for this common orthopedic surgery.

Hip replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure that can relieve your pain, increase motion, and help get you back to enjoying normal, everyday activities.

Signs you may need a hip replacement

Recommendations for surgery are based on a patient's pain and its effect on their normal activities -  not age. Most patients who undergo total hip replacement are age 50 to 80, but total hip replacements have been successfully performed at all ages, from young teenagers with juvenile arthritis to elderly patients with degenerative arthritis. If you are experiencing the following, it's time to talk to your doctor about hip replacement surgery:

  • Hip pain that limits everyday activities such as walking or bending
  • Hip pain that continues while resting, either day or night
  • Stiffness in a hip that limits the ability to move of lift the leg
  • Inadequate pain relief from anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, or walking supports

What to expect from the procedure

An artificial ball-and-socket joint is inserted to make a new hip. It can be done by full open surgery or minimally invasive technique. The minimally invasive technique only requires 1 to 2 tiny incisions and special instruments. Surgery takes 60-90 minutes and the length of the hospital stay varies from 2-6 days.

Hip replacement recovery tips

It will take some time to recover from hip replacement surgery. You will receive pain medication and instructions from your doctor when you leave the hospital. Here are a few tips that can make the recovery a little easier. 

  • You will be using a cane, walker or crutches for awhile to get around. Plan ahead to make moving around as simple as possible. Before surgery:
    • Rearrange furniture so you can get around easily. And if your bedroom is upstairs, consider making a room on the main floor your bedroom during recovery.
    • Place items you use frequently (phone, remote, etc) within easy reach so you do not have to reach up or bend down.
    • Remove any throw rugs or area rugs that could cause you to trip. Securely fasten electrical cords around the perimeter of the room.
    • Get a good chair - one that is firm and has a higher-than-average seat. This type if chair is safer and more comfortable than a low, soft-cushioned chair. 
    • Install a shower chair, gripping bar, and raised toilet seat in the bathroom.
    • Use assistance devices such as a long-handled shoehorn, a long-handled sponge, and a grabbing tool or reach-er to avoid bending over too far.

Before leaving the hospital, walk as much as your doctor and nurses allow you to. Let them help you and learn how to move around with assistance so you don't try to do too much at home. Within 6 weeks, you should be able to resume normal, light activities.

The most important recovery tip is to follow your doctor's instructions. Here are a few common "dos" and "don'ts" from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:

The DOs

  • DO keep the leg facing forward.
  • DO keep the affected leg in front as you sit or stand.hip
  • DO use a high kitchen or bar stool in the kitchen.
  • DO kneel on the knee of the operated leg (the bad side).
  • DO use ice to reduce pain and swelling, but remember that ice will diminish sensation. Don't apply ice directly to the skin; use an ice pack or wrap it in a damp towel.
  • DO apply heat before exercising to assist with range of motion. Use a heating pad or hot, damp towel for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • DO cut back on your exercises if your muscles begin to ache, but don't stop doing them!

The DON'Ts

  • DON'T cross your legs at the knees for at least 6 to 8 weeks.
  • DON'T bring your knee up higher than your hip.
  • DON'T lean forward while sitting or as you sit down.
  • DON'T try to pick up something on the floor while you are sitting.
  • DON'T turn your feet excessively inward or outward when you bend down.
  • DON'T reach down to pull up blankets when lying bed.
  • DON'T bend at the waist beyond 90 degrees.

Considering a hip replacement

If you are experiencing pain in your hip from arthritis, injury, or trauma, it may be time for you to look into your recovery options. It's important that you never delay your care in fear that surgery is your only option. At Logansport Memorial Hospital, our team of orthopedic surgeons work with you to explore all treatment avenues before recommending any surgery at all -- especially a total joint replacement.

If you would like to explore your treatment options, or talk to our surgeons about having a hip replacement, call our orthopedics office at (574) 722-2663 and visit our website for additional orthopedic resources.

TOPICS: Orthopedics