Skagit Northwest Orthopedic

Hip Joint Replacement

What is Hip Joint Replacement

Hip joint replacement, or hip arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure wherein damaged sections of the hip joint, including the femur’s head and pelvic socket, are replaced with prosthetic parts made of durable materials like metal, ceramic, or rigid plastic. This artificial joint alleviates debilitating pain, enabling smoother mobility and improved daily functionality for patients undergoing the procedure.

Total Hip Replacement vs Partial Hip Replacement

The hip joint comprises the femur’s head and the pelvic bone socket.

A doctor holding an artificial hip joint.

Who Needs Hip Replacement

Hip joint replacement becomes necessary in various conditions that significantly impact a person’s mobility and quality of life:

Additionally, individuals may require hip replacement due to persistent hip pain that:

Parts of Hip Replacement

Hip replacement involves various components depending on the extent of the damage:

Because these prosthetic parts can be made from metal, ceramic, or durable plastic, a hip replacement can consist of prosthetic parts made from different materials. The most popular are:


This hip replacement features a metal ball prosthesis and a plastic cup prosthesis or liner, widely compatible with various cases.


A preference for younger and more active individuals, this hip replacement involves a ceramic ball prosthesis and a plastic cup prosthesis or liner. It has a high wear resistance and minimal risk of corrosion.

Surgical Techniques on Total Hip Replacement

Performing hip joint replacement involves accessing the hip joint through incisions in the skin and muscles. Here, we outline three primary surgical approaches surgeons use for total hip replacement:

Posterior Approach vs. Direct Anterior Approach

In the posterior approach, the surgeon makes an incision on the back of the thigh, close to the buttocks, and dissects through the gluteus maximus muscle.

In the direct anterior approach, the surgeon accesses the hip joint by incising the front of the hip and maneuvering muscles and tendons aside to reach the joint.

Research conducted in 2021 indicates that while the posterior approach typically results in a shorter operative time, the anterior approach often leads to shorter hospital stays and quicker returns to functional activities for patients.


In this technique, the surgeon creates an incision on the side of the hip and detaches several gluteus medius tendons to access the joint.

Benefits and Risks of Total Hip Replacement

Statistics indicate that approximately 90% of individuals who have undergone total hip replacement have experienced a remarkable ten-year relief from severe hip pain.

While total hip replacement offers significant benefits, certain risks exist, as with any surgical intervention. However, serious complications arise in less than 2% of cases.

Potential risks associated with total hip replacement include:

Furthermore, risks related to prosthetic parts involve:

How to Prepare for Knee Joint Replacement Surgery

Preparation for hip joint replacement surgery is a comprehensive process to facilitate a smoother post-surgery recovery phase. This includes:

Approximately two weeks before the scheduled procedure, a comprehensive health assessment by the healthcare provider covers the following:

Typically, patients are instructed to fast for eight hours before the scheduled surgery, starting at midnight.

A doctor pointing to the hip joint on an x-ray.

What to Expect During Surgery

The surgery using the above mentioned techniques is completed within 1-2 hours. During this time:

Either approach ensures that patients remain comfortable throughout the surgery, facilitating a smooth and controlled environment for the medical team to perform the hip joint replacement procedure.

After the Surgery

Recovery duration following hip joint replacement varies; some individuals may require 1-2 days to recuperate from surgery and anesthesia effects. Alternatively, certain patients might go home on the same day after spending a few hours in a recovery area.

Before hospital discharge, the patient’s medical team ensures:

Patient's Optimal Independence

The team assesses the patient’s optimal independence in activities such as getting in and out of bed, eating, drinking, using the bathroom, walking with an assistive device on level surfaces, and navigating 2 to 3 stair steps. 

Sometimes, individuals may require a stay at a rehabilitation center to ensure the safe execution of daily activities before returning home.

Home Exercise Guidance

The patient is taught how to do specific home exercises recommended. These exercises will help strengthen hip muscles after the surgery and maintain range of movement.

Understanding Hip Precautions

The patient is educated on hip precautions to prevent injury and facilitate a successful recovery.

Hip Joint Replacement Treatment and Recovery

The recovery timeline to resume light activities typically spans 3-6 weeks post-surgery. Most return to their daily activities with independence within three months. However, the full recovery period can take a year or more. 

Post-discharge care ensures optimal recovery without complications. The following measures are essential:

Wound Care

Leg Strengthening and Mobility through Physical Therapy


Blood Clot Prevention

To mitigate the risk of blood clots, the following steps are undertaken:

Swelling Prevention and Pain Management

Restrictions During Recovery Until Your Healthcare Provider Confirms It is Safe to Do So

During the recovery period post-hip joint replacement surgery, your healthcare provider might advise when to resume specific normal activities:

A physiotherapist with her patient.

Hip Movements and Positions Precautions

What Can You NOT Do After a Hip Replacement?

Certain movements and positions can risk dislocating the new hip joint:

What Can You Do After a Hip Replacement?

Conversely, here are recommended hip movements and positions to maintain the joint’s stability:

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Immediate contact with your healthcare provider is essential if you experience:

Signs and Symptoms of Infection

Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clotting

Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clot in the Lungs

Artificial hip joint prosthetics.

Will the Hip Joint Replacement Last, or Will It Need to be Replaced?

A review from 2019 suggests that approximately 58% of hip replacements are anticipated to endure for up to 25 years.

To optimize the longevity of hip replacements and mitigate stress on the prosthetic joint, patients are advised to consider specific activities:

See our dedicated page to learn more about Joint Replacements.