Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have a query regarding a hip problem, a surgical enquiry, or questions regarding recovery from surgery or injury?
Ask the team via our contact page. We may not be able to answer each individually, but we’ll publish answers to general themes and topics in the ‘News and hot topics’ section.
Is there a non surgical cure for Hip Arthritis?
Unfortunately not. Hip pain is caused by damage to the joint and hip replacement or resurfacing help to reduce pain levels and increase mobility. In children, realignment can help in the very early stages in select cases. In adults, if the disease presents early, an injection of steroid can ease symptoms and delay the need for surgery.
What exactly is a hip replacement?
When a hip joint becomes damaged through wear and tear, sports related injuries or disease, a prosthetic hip joint can be surgically inserted to help the patient regain a wider range of movement. This type of hip replacement operation is called 'hip arthroplasty' and it aims to give the patient restored functionality, significant pain reduction and a return to normal life. In the past the operation was used simply for pain relief, but technology now allows return to sports and normal function.
When total hip replacement surgery is carried out, the damaged hip is replaced with artificial parts called a prosthesis; a medical device that substitutes the hip joint. The prosthesis commonly consists of a socket and ball, either placed over a shaped femoral head (resurfacing) or linked to a stem usually made from steel or titanium.
When are hip replacements necessary?
A very common cause of hip replacements is osteoarthritis. This is where the hip is damaged through disease of the hip joint, although replacements are also necessary for people with rheumatoid, childhood hip problems or fractures. Timing of hip replacement depends on the underlying problem and can vary from days to months.
With osteoarthritis, the optimal time for replacement varies between patients. As a general rule, once the pain or stiffness in a hip starts to regularly affect your lifestyle or activities, then consideration should be given to surgery.
What is involved in hip resurfacing treatment?
Hip resurfacing is a more conservative approach to hip replacement. Resurfacing helps preserve bone which can be used in later hip operations if required. The procedure is popular with hip surgeons, especially in cases involving a younger patient, due to strength and quality of the bone. At present, these are available in metal only.
Are there any complications in hip replacement surgery?
All types of surgery present risks to the patient of one sort or another. Hip surgery also presents problems and complications but, with a dedicated specialist orthopaedic surgeon who has years of experience and regular training, the risks should be significantly reduced.
The most serious complications in hip surgery are blood clots forming in the legs and travelling to the lungs (pulmonary embolus), and infection of the hip joint. These are fortunately rare. Ask your orthopaedic surgeon about these risks and they will explain any potential problems in more detail.
What happens after my hip operation?
After a hip replacement, patients usually find some numbness in their skin, stiffness of the hip and possibly some hip pain. These conditions fade with time and many patients report wider range of movement and reduced pain at a later date.
It is recommended you do not drive after your hip operation for four to six weeks, so consult your surgeon on this matter. Expect to use a stick or for up to six to eight weeks. Generally the hospital stay for a straightforward procedure is three to five days.
How long should a replacement hip last?
Improvements in modern medicine and technology have lengthened the lifespan of hip replacements. While modern hips haven’t been used for long enough to answer this question definitively, laboratory testing does give us some clues. To maximise longevity, younger patients who have higher activity profiles may suit a ceramic or metal bearing, while the high density or crosslinked polyethylene may suit more elderly patients.
How long will I have to use crutches after hip arthroscopy?
It is recommended you use the crutches provided for a minimum of two weeks after hip arthroscopy. In some cases, you may be advised to use crutches for longer, especially if a labral repair or bony trimming has taken place.
How long will I be in hospital after hip arthroscopy?
Hip arthroscopy is a same day surgical procedure in around 50% of cases. The remaining patients will usually be home the next day.
Will I get back pain after my hip operation?
It is very unlikely you will experience back pain after hip surgery, but talk to your hip surgeon if you have a history of a bad back. If hip surgery corrects a long-standing leg length inequality, transient backache may result.
What type of exercises should I do after a hip operation?
Many exercises are posted on the internet which supposedly help recovery after a hip operation. Take guidance from the physiotherapy team at your hospital who are experienced and have expert skills. You will need to exercise to help strengthen the leg and hip, but sudden intense activity could cause greater discomfort or injury so following a graduate programme is sensible.
Can I ride my bike after a hip operation?
In most cases the answer is definitely yes as cycling is a non-impact sport/activity. Wait four to six weeks after the hip operation and talk to your physio so they can provide recovery exercises that will help you get back to cycling.