Hip Replacement

This page helps to explain about total hip replacements.  If it raises more questions please speak to your GP or your specialist.

Arthritis explained

Arthritis covers a group of conditions which cause damage to the joints, all of which cause pain and often stiffness. A common form is osteoarthritis which does long-term damage to the cartilage and joints, often inflicting inflammation as well as pain.

Surgery positives

Surgery for total hip replacement commonly means less pain and more movement for the patient.

Treatments other than surgery

Tablets to reduce pain and inflammation can help.  Dietary supplements can also help but you should always consult your GP first before embarking on this treatment. Aids to mobility such as walking sticks and shoe risers can help especially, as it is important to remain mobile to counter-balance any stiffness. Your GP or specialist may offer steroid injections. These are administered via your hip joint and do reduce the symptoms of pain and inflammation. The downside is that as the arthritis gets worse these treatments struggle to make any noticeable difference to your condition. An alternative to total hip replacement (THR) is hip resurfacing.  This is a more conservative procedure which replaces the diseased or damaged surface to the bones. Your consultant may recommend this as an alternative, depending on your age, lifestyle and the health of your bones.

What does the surgery involve?

An incision in the side of your hip allows the surgeon to access the damaged ball and socket joint. It can be replaced by an artificial one. The artificial hip implant may either be a metal stem and metal acetabular cup with ceramic on ceramic bearing, or a metal stem and metal acetabular cup with polyethylene (hard plastic) lining. The new artificial hip may or may not be secured with acrylic cement depending on age, bone quality and consultant preference. Surgery takes an hour to an hour and a half.

Figure 1
Hip replacement

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General problems

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Wound infection
  • Scarring
  • Urinating may be difficult
  • Chest infection
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Specific side effects

  • Hip infection
  • Split femur
  • Damage to the nerve
  • Difference of leg lengths
  • Dislocation
  • Loosening
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Bone forming in muscles around the hip replacement

After the operation

Expect to stay in hospital for three to seven days whilst you recover.  It will still be necessary to use walking aids when you leave for a few weeks. It is essential to take regular, moderate exercise to aid recovery but it is best to talk to your doctor first. Total hip replacement has positive success rates with reduced pain and more flexible movement as a result. You should do all you can to take good care of your new hip because, like its natural forerunner, it is liable to wear and tear.


Arthritis of the hip joint can be traced to injury or rheumatoid arthritis but often there is no obvious cause.  This operation reduces pain and stiffness giving patients more mobility.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare. 

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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