Authored by Revere Health

Preparing for Hip Surgery

July 20, 2016 | Orthopedics

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Hip surgery can make a world of difference in your mobility and your general health. Hip replacement surgery has gotten more common than ever, with over 310,000 procedures performed every year. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of hip replacement surgeries more than doubled. To make sure that you have the best outcome, it’s good to understand why hip surgery might be recommended and what you can expect before and after your surgery.

Reasons Hip Surgery Is Needed

There are a number of conditions that can cause damage to the joints in your hips. These conditions can include:

Osteoarthritis – In this sort of arthritis, wear and tear on the joint causes damage to the cartilage cover. When this happens, the joint can’t move smoothly.
Osteonecrosis – When there is not enough blood flow getting to the ball portion of your hip joint, the bones there can collapse and deform.
Rheumatoid arthritis – This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Inflammation in the hip can erode cartilage and bone, causing joints to become deformed.

Experts at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) say that rising rates of osteoarthritis is the main driver for hip replacement surgery. Symptoms of arthritis in the hips that can lead to surgery being recommended include:

Persistent pain that does not respond to medication
Difficulty rising from a seated position
Pain that keeps you up at night and interferes with sleep
Difficulty going up or down stairs
Pain and stiffness that gets more intense when you are walking
Difficulty walking, even with the assistance of a cane or walker

Surgery can significantly reduce pain levels. With proper physical therapy after surgery, you will gain the ability to participate in a number of the activities you were able to enjoy before.

What to Do Before Surgery

When your doctor recommends hip surgery, you will meet with an orthopedic surgeon. Your preliminary appointment with the surgeon will include:

Questions about your medical history.
Questions about any medications you are currently taking.
A general physical to ensure that you are in healthy condition for surgery.
An examination of your hip. This will include an assessment of your current range of motion and the strength of the muscles in the surrounding area.
Exams that include blood tests, an x-ray and potentially an MRI.

Surgery can significantly reduce pain levels. With proper physical therapy after surgery, you will gain the ability to participate in a number of the activities you were able to enjoy before.

During your preliminary exam, be sure to ask about which medications you should avoid before surgery and which ones you should continue. If you are on any blood thinners, for instance, your doctor may recommend that you stop taking them for the two-week period before surgery.

Before going to the hospital, set up a recovery station at home. This should be a comfortable area where you have things like books to read, the television remote, bottles of water, a wastebasket and other items within easy reach. Having this at home can make recovery more comfortable.

Arrange to have a friend or family member with you to help you out. It will be a few weeks before you are able to move well.

Stock up on prepared food in advance. Having meals that can be easily heated and served will make it easier to get proper nutrition while you recover.

When it’s time for surgery, you’ll arrive at the hospital and be checked in. You will be asked to remove your clothing and put on a hospital gown. Hip surgery is performed with either a general anesthesia or with a spinal block, which keeps you awake but numbs the lower half of your body. In general, hip surgery involves a three to five day stay in the hospital.

Hip Surgery Risks

All surgeries come with some level of risk.

As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection. Infections can occur at both the incision site and in the deep tissue. In most cases, infection can be treated with antibiotics. In some cases of severe infection, a surgery to remove and replace the artificial hip may be necessary.

There is a chance that healthy portions of your hip joint may fracture during surgery. Small fractures can usually heal on their own. In some cases, wires, pins or bone grafts may be necessary to aid healing.

While you are recovering from surgery, you have an increased risk of blood clots in your legs. To combat this risk, your doctor may give you blood-thinning medication.

The length of your leg may change after surgery. While surgeons do take steps to avoid this, in some cases, a new hip will make one leg longer than the other. This is sometimes caused by weakness in the muscles that surround your hip. Progressive strengthening and stretching of those muscles can fix this issue.


There is a risk of loosening of the joint that has been repaired. This complication is rare, however, with newer implants and surgery methods.

Recovering from Hip Surgery

To help you recover more quickly, you will be encouraged to sit up and even start walking with the assistance of crutches soon after your surgery. Wearing compression stockings or inflatable air sleeves can provide pressure to keep blood moving and reduce the chance of blood clots.

You may also work with a physical therapist at the hospital to learn exercises that can speed your recovery. Regular physical activity is a must to regain the use of your joints and muscles. Straightening and mobility exercises will help you learn how to walk using a walking aid like a cane or walker. As your healing progresses, you’ll soon be able to put more pressure on your leg. Soon, you’ll be walking well again without assistance.

Are you experiencing hip pain that is interfering with your quality of life? Contact our offices today to learn about options that can help you experience less pain and return to a healthier and more active life.

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Dr. Carlson tends to be conservative with surgical treatment, and much of his training is in minimally-invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy. He believes everyone deserves a trial of a more conservative treatment before moving to more invasive treatments such as surgery. Dr. Carlson tries to spend time with patients to better understand their goals and work together to come up with a treatment plan based on those goals and their distinct medical history.





Michael Carlson, MD

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.