Total Hip Replacement FAQ

By Andrew Heideman, PT/ATC

Total Hip Replacement FAQ

What is a Total Hip Replacement Surgery?

This is probably the most common Total Hip Replacement FAQ. The hip joint is a “ball and socket” joint that consists of the head of the femur (thigh bone), and the acetabulum of the pelvis. These two bones each have cartilage on the end that act as a cushion for the bones. It is possible for cartilage to degenerate, or break down, causing pain and inflammation in the joint. A total hip replacement removes the damaged bone and cartilage and replaces it with prosthetic components in order to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint.


Graphic of the Human Hip Anatomy.

Who Should Have a Hip Replacement?

Surgery should be considered for people who have hip joint pain that causes severe limitations in their activities of daily living, mobility, and do not respond to conservative management. Typical medical diagnoses associated with hip replacements include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis, and avascular necrosis of the hip.

Are There Other Alternatives to a Hip Replacement?

Conservative management of a hip with osteoarthritis (OA) often includes Physical Therapy, hip joint injections, and anti-inflammatory medication for pain relief. Some people may benefit from other types of surgical procedures, and should consult a physician about their options.

Is There Anything I Can Do To Prepare For My Hip Replacement?

Low impact cardiovascular exercises can be performed to improve your general health. It helps range of movement prior to having a hip replacement. Walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming are good low impact activities that may be beneficial prior to surgery.

How Long Should I Expect to Stay in the Hospital, and What Kind of Rehab is Involved?

Typical hospital stay for this procedure is between 1 to 3 days. Physical therapy in the hospital typically begins the day after surgery. It involves gait training, range of motion and strengthening exercises.

Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Hip Osteoarthritis and joint pain

What is the Process of Rehabilitation After I Leave the Hospital?

Depending on your health status, living situation, and current condition, you can expect to continue your rehabilitation in 3 settings. For people who live alone, with no family support, or have complicated medical histories, it may be recommended that you are admitted to inpatient rehab in a skilled nursing facility or rehab hospital. For people with less complicated histories, they are more likely to continue rehab in home health care or in outpatient Physical Therapy.

How Long Does the Recovery and Healing Process Take?

Most people take between can take 3 to 6 months to heal depending on age, health status, and prior level of function. But most can return to work as early as 8 weeks post-operatively.

What are Total Hip Precautions and How Long Do I Need to Follow Them?

Hip precautions can vary depending on the surgical procedure. The most common hip precautions include avoiding crossing your legs or turning your toes inward towards midline. Some surgical procedures require avoidance of excessive hip flexion (bringing your knee to chest) movement or excessive hip extension. Your physician or physical therapist will review your specific precautions before and after surgery.

Related articles: Total Joint Replacement and Robotic Hip Replacement.

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