In a total hip replacement, a specialist removes the damaged ball and socket of the hip joint and replaces them with artificial parts called prostheses. These are made of metal and polyethylene, a metal-strength plastic. The artificial ball and socket are inserted through a surgical incision and held in place by the surrounding ligaments and muscles, just like your natural hip.
If you’re considering hip replacement surgery, we’ll first conduct an evaluation to determine if surgery is right for you. It begins with a detailed questionnaire about your medical history. This helps the orthopedic surgeon understand your pain, your physical limitations, and the progression of your hip problem. Next the surgeon examines you, measuring the range of motion of your hips and knees and analyzing your muscle strength. A technician then X-rays your hip to help the surgeon plan the surgery and fit the prostheses. After the evaluation, the surgeon will discuss with you all of the possible options for treatment.
Most patients stay in the hospital just three or four days following hip replacement surgery. Physical therapy begins right after surgery while you are still in bed. You will start with isometric exercises: tightening muscles without moving the joint. You will be asked to move your ankles and other joints so that you will remain strong. The day after surgery, you will begin walking and moving the hip joint. When you can get in and out of bed without help and are able to walk safely with a walker and climb stairs, you can leave the hospital. Regular therapy sessions will continue for several weeks after you return home.
Full recovery typically takes three to six months. Within three to four months, you may be able to begin low-impact aerobic activities such as brisk walking, bicycling, and swimming.