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    Hip Replacement Surgery

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is an artificial joint?

    An artificial hip replaces a deteriorated hip. In a hip component, the socket is replaced with a cup and the femoral head is replaced with a metal ball and stem that is fixed to the femur (thigh bone). The artificial hip provides a smooth, frictionless surface that restores the painless motion of the hip. Joint replacement procedures are generally performed to address persistent pain that does not get better using non-surgical methods, such as pain medication.
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    How do I know if it’s the right time to have total hip replacement surgery?

    It is a personal decision to have total hip replacement. However, if you are unable to perform daily activities due to pain or decreased range of motion, it may be a good time to consider total hip replacement surgery. Most patients decide on joint replacement when they are unable to perform normal activities of daily life without pain.
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    Can I wait to have total hip replacement? If I wait, will I be unable to have the surgery at a later date?

    You can wait to have total hip replacement until a later date, and waiting will not impact your ability to have the surgery in the future. The inactivity produced by pain usually prevents aggressive degeneration of your joint. You may want to consider joint replacement when your activity level starts to decline to the point where it affects your general health.
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    Am I too old to have hip replacement surgery?

    Age is not a factor in hip replacement surgery. The purpose of the surgery is to relieve pain and return you to an active, normal life. If you are suffering from pain that decreases your quality of life and it is determined that the joint replacement can be safely performed, you are a candidate for the surgery.
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    Should I have physical therapy before surgery?

    Physical therapy is not necessary before joint replacement surgery, but many people find it helpful. You may begin standard hip exercises or consult with your physical therapist.
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    What are the risks of total hip replacement surgery?

    The primary risks of joint replacement surgery are blood clots, infection, hip dislocation and slightly uneven leg length. Blood thinners are used after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots, and antibiotics are administered to prevent infection. Hip precautions are important to reduce the risk of dislocating the hip, and preoperative planning is performed to limit uneven leg length.
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    What type of artificial hip is right for me?

    The best person to make this decision is your surgeon. Most orthopedic surgeons prefer a non-cemented acetabulum. The decision to have a cemented or non-cemented femoral component depends on your age, weight and medical condition. Bearing surface choices are metal on polyethylene, metal on metal, ceramic on polyethylene or ceramic on ceramic.
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    Do I have to modify my movement? Can I perform daily activities, such as dressing myself?

    You should avoid squatting and follow general movement precautions advised by your surgeon and physical therapist.
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    How long will my joint replacement last?

    Your hip replacement is expected to last between 15 and 20 years. For younger patients, this time may be reduced. We are unable to guarantee the lifespan of the replacement, but are hopeful that today’s hip replacements will last up to 20 years.
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    Why do hip replacements fail?

    The primary reason for loosening of the hip replacement is a process called osteolysis. Wear on the bearing surfaces, primarily the plastic, creates particles. In an attempt to remove the particles, the body tries to digest them. In doing so, it loosens the bond between the implant and the bone. This is a gradual process that may occur over many years.
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    Do I need to give blood?

    You may donate your own blood if you do not want to use blood from another donor.
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    How long will the operation take?

    The actual hip replacement operation will last from 60 to 90 minutes. The length of the surgery will depend on your health and medical needs, as well your size. Larger patients with more hip problems require longer surgical time. The actual time in the operating room is usually two to three hours, including time for anesthesia, positioning, draping, surgery, placing bandages, waking you up and transporting you to the recovery room.
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    How long will I be in the hospital?

    Your stay in the hospital may be from two to four days; the average stay is close to three days. Your discharge from the hospital depends on your ability to eat, control your pain and your progress with physical and occupational therapy.
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    Where will I go after I am discharged from the hospital? What if I live alone?

    Some patients go home and some go to rehabilitation facilities, called skilled nursing facilities, after leaving the hospital. Where you go for recuperation depends on your age and physical and medical condition. If you live alone, it is important to prepare your home for your return before you leave for the hospital and make transportation arrangements. Many individuals who live alone prefer to recuperate at a skilled nursing facility for a week following the surgery.
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    Will I need help at home?

    If you go home after surgery, you may require some help preparing meals and with daily activity assistance, such as getting in and out of a chair for the first few days. You should prepare your home for your return before you leave for the hospital, including cleaning the house, doing any necessary chores and washing laundry. You may seek the help of a home health agency, and your physical and occupational therapists will come to your home up to three times per week for the first couple of weeks following surgery.
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    When will I walk again, and do I have to use assistance devices such as a walker or cane?

    You will begin walking again immediately following your surgery according to your physical therapy plan, and may use a walker or cane for assistance.
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    How long do I have to use the abduction pillow?

    You should use the abduction pillow during your hospital stay and for two to six weeks following your surgery.
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    When can I lie on my side and stomach?

    You may lie on your side once you have full control over your operative leg, typically six to 12 weeks after surgery.
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    When can I cross my legs or bend down to the ground?

    Although your chance of dislocating your hip after surgery decreases after 12 weeks following surgery, we strongly recommend that you always maintain hip precautions (link to Precautions for Preventing Hip Dislocation page) and do not cross your legs at the knee.
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    When can I drive?

    You may begin driving again four to six weeks after your surgery.
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    When can I play golf?

    You may play golf four to six weeks after your surgery.
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    When can I have sexual intercourse?

    You may have sexual intercourse four to six weeks after your surgery.
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    How long do I have to follow total hip precautions?

    You should follow total hip precautions (Link to hip precautions page) for the rest of your life, unless your surgeon tells you otherwise.
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    Do I need to purchase any special equipment for my home, such as handrails, an elevated toilet seat or shower seat?

    Your occupational therapist will order the elevated toilet seat and any other adaptive equipment you may need prior to your discharge from the hospital.
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    Are there any exercises I can perform on my own to gain strength and mobility?

    In general, walking helps build strength, as do abduction and forward flexion exercises. Your physical therapist will prescribe exercises you can perform at home to gain strength and mobility.
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    How do I know if my hip component is loose or there is a problem?

    If you experience persistent pain or weakening, your hip component may be loose. Please contact your doctor or care team immediately.
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    How do I know if I’ve dislocated my hip?

    If you dislocate your hip, you will experience severe pain, and won’t be able to lift your leg and walk. If you believe you have dislocated your hip, go to the emergency room immediately.
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    Do I need to continue taking my pain medications?

    Your doctor may begin reducing your pain medications two to 12 weeks following surgery. You may still require pain medication during physical therapy; it is important to have good pain control during therapy to make sure you get the most out of the rehabilitative exercises.
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