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Total Hip Replacement

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a total hip replacement?

Total hip replacement is a “quality of life” elective operation, offered to patients when their pain and disability are significant as a procedure that will decrease their discomfort.

The aim of the operation is to replace the head of the femur (ball) and the acetabulum (socket) with a man made device (prosthesis). The femoral component goes into the femoral canal and has a ball attached to the top. The acetabular component goes in to the socket in the pelvis and a liner is inserted into this. These devices are combinations of metal and plastic or ceramic on ceramic. They are fixed to the bone either using bone cement or by using a prosthesis with a rough surface, which relies on your bone growing on to the implant for long term stability.

Total hip replacement is not a complete solution to the problem as they become loose with time and may need to be revised (which means another operation) within ten to fifteen years. Your surgeon chooses the best prosthesis for your particular problem and decides whether a cemented or non-cemented technique will be used.

What are the benefits of a total hip replacement?

You do not have to live with a painful hip for the rest of your life. During this surgery your problem hip joint is replaced with an artificial joint (a prosthesis). After a total hip replacement, you can look forward to moving more easily and without pain.

Most people gain all the following benefits:

  • Stops or greatly reduces hip pain. Even the pain from surgery should go away within weeks
  • Increases leg strength. Without hip pain you will be able to use your legs more and build up your muscles
  • Improves quality of life by allowing you to do activities of daily living and low impact activities in greater comfort
  • Enables you to sleep without pain
  • Provides years of reliable function. Most total hip replacements last for many years

Who is offered total hip replacement as an option?

When you have arthritis on your X-ray and pain and stiffness from your hip joint cause:

  • Severe disability
  • Difficulty or inability to perform your job
  • Interference with your leisure activities
  • Interference with your walking or mobility
  • Difficulty putting on shoes and socks
  • Waking you at night despite non operative treatment such as drugs
Or when conservative treatment such as analgesia, anti-inflammatories, weight loss, physiotherapy and aids like crutches or a cane has failed.

Remember that it is an elective procedure and should only be performed when you are no longer prepared to put up with your pain and disability and understand the benefits versus the risks involved.

Is the procedure safe?

This operation is one of the most cost effective and beneficial operations done in surgery. Hip replacement surgery has evolved significantly over the last 40 years since first performed. There are improvements constantly being made but modern day hip replacements are extremely sophisticated and function well for many years.

However, there are risks in any operation. You can read about the general complications here. Some complications specific to total hip replacement are:

  • Infection
  • Fracture of femur or pelvis
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels
  • Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism)
  • Wound irritation or breakdown
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Dislocation
  • Leg length inequality
  • Wear
  • Osteolysis
  • Limp
  • Heterotopic ossification
  • Cosmetic appearance
  • Breakage of the implant
Your doctor can give you more information about these complications.

When can I go back to work?

People usually can return to work somewhere from eight to twelve weeks. Heavy manual work may take longer.

When will I be able to drive again?

When you feel comfortable and when you have regained muscle control. For most people, this is usually by six weeks. Please also check with your insurance company as they may have specific rules on when you can drive after surgery.

When will I be able to resume sexual intercourse?

Sexual intercourse is allowed when the patient is comfortable but they have to be in charge of the positions used and any significant discomfort should result in the patient abstaining until they talk to their doctor.

In general, sexual intercourse occurs at around three to six weeks post operatively.

When will I be able to do exercise again?

Normally by three months you can play sports like golf, bowls, stationary bike ride, bush walk, doubles tennis and swim. Jogging and heavy weights, although possible, will wear the joint prematurely. Contact sports are not appropriate.

Remember this is an artificial hip and must be treated with care.

In general, the more active you are, the quicker your hip will wear out.

Avoid situations where you might fall.

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02 9735 3637
02 9735 3635

Hip & Knee Clinic
Retail 4/8 Australia Ave
Sydney Olympic Park
Homebush Bay NSW 2127
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