How Successful Is a Total Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement is a very successful surgery, but it’s the last and final treatment option after we try physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and injections for patients with hip pain caused by osteoarthritis or degenerative changes in the hip.

The procedure replaces the cup, which is the acetabulum on the pelvis, and the femur side, which is the ball of the ball and socket joint. A hip replacement takes away the pain in the hip caused by arthritis. It is one of the most successful surgeries performed in the United States for any reason. The patient satisfaction for hip replacement is greater than 97%.

Hip replacement has been found to increase function to a higher degree than any other orthopedic surgery that we do for people who require surgery on a joint for pain, especially arthritis. So, patients who are candidates for a hip replacement are really in good shape because this is a very successful surgery.

What You Need to Know First

One of the first things that you need to know is if you are a candidate for the surgery:

  • We make sure that you’re healthy enough to undergo the surgery
  • That you have gone through enough non-operative management
  • Your pain is actually coming from your hip and not from somewhere else (like a problem with your back or your knee)

Once you’re cleared by your doctor, then you can proceed with surgery.

Before surgery, we have you take a class on joint replacement. You’ll go to the hospital, you’ll learn about what the surgery and recovery process entails. But, from our standpoint, once we decide to do the surgery, we get a surgical date for you and you will then see your medical doctor, get medically optimized, and move forward with the total hip replacement.

The Examination

During the examination, we bring the hip to a range of motion.  We get X-rays of the hip and of the lower back to help pinpoint where your pain is because pain localization is very important. The history of your pain is also very important in order to make sure it’s addressed during surgery – is it in your groin? Is it in your buttock? Is it radiating down your thigh? Is it in your knee?

These are all things that point us towards somebody that would benefit from a hip replacement.

The vast majority of patients will go through a course of physical therapy or even intra-articular cortisone injections prior to surgery. Again, operative management is the final treatment if all other conservative management methods did not alleviate your discomfort.

Shave 5 Strokes Off Your Golf Game

After surgery, patients stay in the hospital for about two days, which is when most patients go home. The surgery itself takes about an hour and the procedure is done under spinal anesthesia, if it’s possible.

You’ll be up walking the day of surgery. Patients usually will feel the benefits from their hip replacement within two weeks after surgery.

Yes, you will be sore.

There’s some pain involved afterwards but the grinding and burning pain that’s typical in patient’s hips who have arthritis will start to get better two weeks after surgery. By three months most patients are back to the activities they were already doing – or more activity than they had been doing before!

So, if patients are golfers prior to hip replacement, it’s been found that their handicap on average will get better by five points.

Total hip replacement is a fantastic surgery to increase function and to decrease pain for patients who have hip arthritis.

Advice After Hip Replacement Surgery

Physical therapy starts immediately on the day of surgery and it continues for the first three months.

Some people do require pain medication postoperatively, but the need for pain medical wanes within the first week after surgery. The pain is usually well controlled with either Tylenol or Advil, or anti-inflammatory medications.

It’s always good to have somebody at home with you that could be available to help with the first few days after surgery. Although you’re able to get up and move around after the surgery, you won’t be able to be as active and as mobile as you would be normally during this initial healing period.

Because total care is important to us, we like to make sure people have made arrangements so that they have some help at home. And if not, we are always happy to make those arrangements using home health aides or visiting nursing to come to the patient’s house.

Candidates for Total Hip Replacement

The typical hip replacement patient is someone who’s over 50. However, we treat active patients who are younger that have chronic pain if they have reached a point where they can’t do the things they want to do.

Usually hip replacement candidates say that walking prolonged distances is difficult, standing, getting up from a seated position is difficult, and sitting for a long time is painful.

The typical patient is somewhere between 50 to 70, though older and younger patients are also treated. In the past, we’ve successfully operated on patients who are over 80 with this problem because their hip pain has just become crippling for them.

You will benefit from a hip replacement if your quality of life is suffering and you’ve changed your activities and the things you like to do because your hip pain is so limiting.

How Long Does the Hip Replacement Last?

Like any mechanical part, it depends on how much wear and tear you put on it.

So, if you’re somebody who is very active and wants to continue playing golf, or tennis, or ski, you’re going to use your hip replacement more and you will wear it out faster.

These new implants that we use they can last up to 30 years, but a safe “guesstimate” of how long someone’s hip is going to last before it needs to be revised or re-replaced is about 20 to 22 years.

Contact Westchester Sport and Spine to make an appointment to discuss your hip pain.

Dr. Michael Gott is a Westchester orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He has also been an active member of the National Ski Patrol as well as a Member of the Windham Mountain Ski Patrol for 18 years.