Accessibility Tools

Hip Replacement FAQs

What causes hip problems?

There are many different types of issues that can cause hip problems:

  • Arthritis - there are different types of arthritis that can directly affect the hips including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis causes swelling and joint pain, causing difficulty in movement. This is more likely to affect older people but can happen at any age.
  • Old injuries - when injured, damage can be caused to the ligaments, tendons, muscles or bones. Injuries can occur from overuse (usually more common in athletes) or breakage.
  • Bursitis - joints are cushioned by something called bursae, which contain fluid that allows us to move easily. If they become irritated or swollen, they can cause bursitis. This is usually caused by arthritis, injury or overuse.

What hip investigations are necessary?

When determining the causes of hip pain, the first method of investigation is an X-ray. If the hip has been fractured, this can’t always be identified on the X-ray, so further imaging may be required. MRIs and CT scans are able to identify a radiographically occult fracture. CT scans are also used to plan surgeries and to discuss the prognosis.

What are the treatment options for hip problems?

There are many different ways of managing hip pain depending on the severity and longevity of your pain:

  • Painkillers - a GP may prescribe some strong painkillers for intermittent pain
  • Exercise - a GP may offer some gentle exercises to try to alleviate the pain
  • Physiotherapy - a professional can help to stretch and exercise the joints
  • Occupational therapist - someone who can offer walking sticks and walking aids
  • Surgical and non-surgical procedures - depending on the severity of the pain, your GP may refer you to a specialist for procedures.

Always speak to a professional about which treatment will suit you and your situation.

What happens before a hip operation?

Before your hip operation, there are several preparations that need to be made in order to ensure everything goes smoothly:

  • A pre-assessment to talk through the operation, take blood and x-rays and perform an infection screening. Your general health will also be checked.
  • An anaesthetist will discuss the types of anaesthetics you can have and how to manage pain afterwards.
  • An occupational therapist may visit your home to ensure your furniture is suitable to ensure safety during recovery.
  • Before your surgery, you will be advised to exercise to maintain mobility in the joint and the surrounding tissue. Strengthening the muscles will help to support your new hip, help your posture and walking pattern and aid in recovery.
  • You need to ensure you have everything prepared for after the operation - ensuring meals are prepped and frozen in advance, asking friends and family to help with everyday tasks, moving items within reach and adjusting furniture and carpets so that nothing interferes with your walking aids.
  • Ensure you are clean and have appropriate footwear on the day of your surgery.

What is the hip replacement recovery time?

Recovery varies from person to person, but you may be able to partake in light activities or office work around 6 weeks after your surgery. It is advisable to avoid heavy lifting for longer to give yourself time to heal. It is also advised to avoid extreme movement or sports where there could be a risk of falling. It can take some patients between 6 to 12 months to recover fully from their surgery.

Why do I need hip surgery?

Hip surgery is usually required when the hip joint has been worn away or damaged. This could be for a variety of reasons but is usually down to ageing. Damaged or worn hips can cause pain, even whilst resting. Hip surgery restores mobility and allows you to live pain-free.

What are the different types of hip replacement?

There are a few different types of hip replacement you could have, depending on the severity of your situation:

  • Total hip replacement - this involves removing the hip joint and replacing it with a hip implant. This is one of the most common orthopaedic operations.
  • Partial hip replacement - this surgery does not replace the socket of the hip joint but instead replaces the ball of the joint. This is a common surgery for older people who have fractured their hip during a fall.
  • Hip revision - this surgery is required when the hip joint needs replacing after becoming loose, infected or worn.

Is hip and knee surgery major surgery?

Yes, hip and knee replacement surgery is considered major surgery. You may be recommended other treatments to begin with, such as injections or physiotherapy to try and ease your symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended if the damage is too great.

Can I drive after hip replacement surgery?

You can start driving again after 4-6 weeks after surgery, but some people need recovery for up to 8 weeks before attempting to drive. You must ensure you are covered by your insurance and have the go-ahead from your doctor.

Can I fly after hip replacement surgery?

If you want to holiday, we recommend 4 weeks rest before going on a UK holiday. For a short-haul flight, we recommend up to 3 months rest, and for long-haul flights, we recommend after 3 months rest.

  • British Hip Society logo
  • British Association For Surgery Of The Knee Logo
  • Medical Defence Union Logo
  • Royal College Of Surgeons of England Logo
  • British Medical Association Logo
  • Premium Medical Protection Logo
  • Nuffield Health Logo