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What to expect from your new hip

If you're considering hip replacement, it's important to learn what you can expect from a new hip. Having realistic expectations will help ensure that you make a good choice about surgery and are happier with the results.

Your surgeon can tell you more about what to expect, given your goals. But here are some of the things you should know about life after hip replacement.

Surgery can offer significant benefits

Hip replacement helps most of the people who have the procedure. Two of the main benefits you may experience are:

  • Reduced pain. Nearly 90% of people see improvements in their moderate to severe hip pain.
  • Improved function. After surgery you may be able to move your hip better so that it's easier to do daily tasks, like cooking and shopping. Improved movement can also help you get back to the recreational activities that you enjoyed before your hip problem.

It may take some time to get used to your new hip

After a while, you probably won't think about your hip implant a lot. But you may notice a few differences, such as:

  • The skin around your incision may feel somewhat numb. And your hip may feel somewhat stiff when you bend it a bit too much. These sensations should improve with time.
  • In some cases, one leg may be slightly longer or shorter than the other. Surgeons try to avoid this. If it happens, you may find it more comfortable to wear a shoe lift.
  • The parts in artificial hips can set off metal detectors. You'll need to remember to tell airport screeners or security guards that you have an implant.

You may need to adjust your activities after surgery

A new hip can put many activities back into play for you. But there are limits to what a new hip can do. For instance:

  • It's best to avoid activities that can prematurely wear out your implant, like jogging, running, jumping, or high-impact sports like basketball or aggressive tennis. Better activities for your new hip include walking, cycling and swimming.
  • You can enjoy sex once your hip has adequately healed, but you may need to adjust your positions. Those that require you to flex your hips a lot may dislocate your hip implant. Ask your doctor what positions will be safe with your new hip and which ones you should avoid.

Your new hip can last a long time

With good care, today's hip implants can last for 20 years. But your implant could eventually start to wear down. And the parts can loosen, especially if you do a lot of high-impact activities.

Tell your doctor if you notice anything unusual about your hip, like pain or a grinding sensation. These could be signs of an implant problem. Often it's easier to repair hip implant problems when you address them early.

Talk to your doctor

If you're living with hip pain, it's time to talk to your doctor. Here are questions you should ask and questions your doctor may ask you.

Get ready for the conversation

Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons; Arthritis Foundation; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Reviewed 9/3/2021

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