Hip Arthroplasty (Replacement) Benefits, Risks, and Complications

Hip arthroplasty (replacement) is common and even referred to as "routine" nowadays, though there are unique risks and complication to know.

Helpful Highlights

  • Benefits of hip replacement include pain relief and improved function and mobility.

  • The risks of a hip replacement are those associated with any major surgery.

  • Additional risks are that the hip replacement won't bring expected outcomes, and/or may require additional surgeries in the immediate or distant future.

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What are the benefits of hip arthroplasty (replacement)?

Hip replacement surgery results are often excellent, provided all recommendations are followed. 

Relief from pain is the greatest benefit and the major reason for hip replacement surgery.

Restoring function to the hip joint promotes independence and returns quality of life.

The procedure also offers other benefits, including:

  • Improved movement and strength

  • Stabilization of the hip joint and improved coordination of the torso and leg

  • Reduction in fall risk

  • The ability to walk, climb stairs, and maintain an active lifestyle in greater comfort

  • Increased confidence/self-esteem

After recovery, your loved one can engage in various low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming (avoid breaststroke kicks), golfing, or biking. But they should avoid high-impact activities, such as jogging, leg presses, and sports that involve jumping or person-to-person contact. Talk to your loved one's healthcare provider about ways to stay active after hip replacement.

What are the risks of hip arthroplasty (replacement)?

Most people do well with hip replacement, though hip replacement, like any surgery, carries risks. However, the complication rate following joint replacement surgery is very low (less than 2%), and many can be successfully avoided or treated. Chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications. Although uncommon, when these complications occur, they can prolong healing or limit full recovery.

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs

  • Difference in leg lengths

  • Injury to nearby nerves or blood vessels

  • Fracture

  • Continued pain, stiffness, or instability of the joint

  • The implant loosens or wears out and needs revision (another surgery)

  • Unrelieved joint pain (this may be temporary)

  • Weakness

  • Need for additional surgeries or a second replacement

  • Dislocation (sometimes the ball can separate from the socket, though this happens to less than 2% of patients)

  • In very rare cases of bone surgery, particularly procedures using bone cement, an embolism (blockage) can occur if fat from the bone marrow enters the bloodstream. A fat embolism raises the risk of a heart attack or stroke. 

There may be other risks depending on your loved one's medical conditions. Be sure to discuss any concerns with the surgeon and ask which risks are highest and how to manage them.

RESOURCES

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) – Total Hip Replacement

American Association of Hip & Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) – Total Hip Replacement

Johns Hopkins Medicine – Hip Replacement Surgery

Mayo Clinic – Hip Replacement

No content in this app, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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