Is Total Hip Replacement Considered Major Surgery? Everything You Need to Know

Total hip replacement is undoubtedly one of the most significant medical procedures that anyone can undergo. Simply put, replacing a damaged or worn out hip joint with a prosthetic one is no walk in the park. Many people often wonder if total hip replacement is major surgery. Well, the short answer is yes. It is a major surgical procedure that comes with its fair share of risks and potential complications.

Despite the risks, total hip replacement is a highly effective procedure that has helped millions of people worldwide to regain their mobility and enjoy a better quality of life. It involves removing damaged bone and cartilage from the hip joint and replacing it with an artificial joint that allows for more fluid movement. While the procedure itself can be complex and time-consuming, many orthopedic surgeons have perfected the art of total hip replacement to the point where it has become a relatively routine procedure.

In this article, we’ll dive into what exactly constitutes major surgery and why total hip replacement fits the bill. We’ll also explore some of the common risks and complications associated with the procedure, as well as ways to mitigate them. Bottom line: if you’re considering total hip replacement, this article is a must-read for you. By the end of it, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect from the procedure and how to ensure a successful outcome.

Types of Hip Replacement Surgeries

A total hip replacement (THR) surgery is considered as a major surgical procedure that aims to improve hip joint function and alleviate hip pain. Depending on the extent of damage or the underlying cause, there are several types of hip replacement surgeries available:

  • Traditional Hip Replacement: This type of hip replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged hip joint with an artificial joint made of metal or ceramic. The surgeon makes an incision on the side or back of the hip and removes the damaged ball and socket joint. Then, the metal or ceramic implant is placed into the bone with the help of cement or a special coating, and the muscles and tissues are repaired to their original position.
  • Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement: This technique uses smaller incisions than traditional hip replacement surgery. The surgeon uses specialized instruments to access and remove the damaged joint and inserts the implant. This method offers fewer complications, less blood loss and faster recovery.
  • Anterior Hip Replacement: This type of procedure replaces the hip joint through an incision in the front of the hip. This approach allows the surgeon to access the hip joint without cutting through critical muscles and tissues. Anterior hip replacement is associated with less pain, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery periods.

The type of hip replacement surgery is chosen based on the patient’s medical needs, age, lifestyle and the doctor’s preference. With the advancements in medical technology, hip replacement surgeries are becoming increasingly safe and effective in improving mobility and quality of life.

Risks associated with hip replacement surgery

While total hip replacement surgery has a high success rate, like any surgical procedure, there are risks involved. It is important for patients to be aware of these risks and take necessary precautions to minimize them. Here are some of the most common risks associated with hip replacement surgery:

  • Blood clots: After surgery, blood clots can form in the legs. These blood clots can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening.
  • Infection: There is a risk of infection after any surgery, including total hip replacement. Some infections may require antibiotic treatment, while more severe infections may require surgical intervention.
  • Dislocation: The artificial hip joint can dislocate, particularly in the first few months after surgery. Patients are advised to follow specific precautions to prevent dislocation.

In addition to these risks, there may be other factors that increase the risk of complications, such as obesity, advanced age, and underlying medical conditions. Patients should discuss their individual risks with their surgeon.

To minimize the risks associated with hip replacement surgery, patients can take several steps before and after surgery. These may include:

  • Losing weight if necessary
  • Stopping smoking to reduce the risk of infection
  • Participating in physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint
  • Following postoperative instructions on exercises and precautions

Patients should also be aware of the signs of potential complications, such as fever, redness or swelling, or severe pain that does not improve with pain medication. If they experience any of these symptoms, they should contact their surgeon immediately.

Risk Description
Blood clots Formation of blood clots in legs that can travel to lungs and cause pulmonary embolism
Infection Risk of infection after surgery, which may require antibiotic treatment or surgical intervention
Dislocation The artificial hip joint can dislocate, particularly in the first few months after surgery, requiring follow-up care

While there are risks associated with hip replacement surgery, these risks can be minimized with proper preparation and follow-up care. Patients should work closely with their surgeon to develop an individualized care plan that reduces their risk of complications and optimizes their recovery.

Preparing for hip replacement surgery

Hip replacement surgery is a major surgery that involves removing the damaged or diseased part of the hip joint and replacing it with artificial parts, called prostheses. It requires careful preparation and planning to ensure that the procedure is safe and successful.

The preparation for hip replacement surgery can be divided into several steps, including medical evaluation, pre-operative testing, lifestyle changes, and psychological preparation. These steps are crucial to minimize the risk of complications and to ensure a speedy recovery.

Here are some tips to follow to prepare for hip replacement surgery:

  • Medical evaluation: Your surgeon will conduct a thorough medical evaluation to assess your overall health, medical history, and any underlying conditions you may have. This will help determine if you are a good candidate for hip replacement surgery and identify any potential risks.
  • Pre-operative testing: You may need to undergo several tests, such as blood tests, imaging tests, and electrocardiograms (ECG), to ensure that you are healthy enough to undergo surgery.
  • Lifestyle changes: Your surgeon may recommend certain lifestyle changes before surgery, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and increasing your physical activity level. These changes can help reduce the risk of complications and improve the outcome of surgery.

Preparing your home for recovery

After the surgery, it’s essential to create a comfortable and safe environment to facilitate your recovery. Before you go to the hospital, you should prepare your home to ensure easy mobility and access. Some tips to follow include:

  • Clear the floors of any clutter or tripping hazards.
  • Create a sleeping area on the first floor of your home if possible.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom and the shower/bathtub.
  • Prepare meals in advance and freeze them to minimize the need to cook.

Psychological preparation

The psychological preparation for hip replacement surgery is essential because it can significantly affect your outcome. Anxiety and stress can cause complications such as increased pain, slower recovery, and even increased risk of infection.

To prepare mentally for the surgery, you should try to learn as much as possible about the procedure, what to expect before, during, and after the surgery. You may also seek a support group or a therapist to help you cope with any feelings of anxiety or fear that you may have.


Preparing for hip replacement surgery involves several steps, including medical evaluation, pre-operative testing, lifestyle changes, and psychological preparation. The process is crucial to minimizing the risk of complications and ensuring a speedy recovery. Before surgery, you should also prepare your home to create a safe environment for recovery. Finally, mental preparation and coping strategies can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve the outcome of surgery.

Tips for Preparing for Hip Replacement Surgery
Medical evaluation
Pre-operative testing
Lifestyle changes
Prepare your home for recovery
Psychological preparation

Proper preparation for total hip replacement surgery is essential to ensure a successful outcome. Follow the tips outlined above to prepare physically, mentally, and environmentally for the surgery, and minimize the risk of complications.

Post-operative care for total hip replacement

After undergoing total hip replacement surgery, proper post-operative care is crucial for a successful recovery. Post-operative care includes various measures to ensure that the patient heals properly and can return to their normal activities as soon as possible.

Some common post-operative care measures for total hip replacement include:

  • Pain management: Pain control is essential after surgery, and your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help manage discomfort.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy is important for patients who have undergone total hip replacement surgery to help them regain strength and range of motion in the affected joint. Physical therapy should begin soon after surgery and usually continues for several weeks or months.
  • Activity modification: Patients should avoid activities that can put pressure on the replaced joint, such as running or jumping, for several weeks after surgery. Patients should also avoid sitting for extended periods, which can increase the risk of blood clots.
  • Wound care: Patients should keep their incision site clean and dry to prevent infection. Your doctor will provide specific instructions for dressing changes and keeping the area clean.

Patients who have undergone total hip replacement surgery should also be aware of potential complications and notify their doctor if they experience any of the following:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Dislocation of the new joint
  • Fracture of the new joint
  • Nerve damage or numbness

In addition to these post-operative care measures, patients should also follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen to maintain overall health and promote the healing process. They should also attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with their doctor to monitor their progress and address any concerns.

Proper post-operative care is essential for a successful total hip replacement surgery recovery. Following your doctor’s instructions and taking steps to promote healing will help ensure that you can return to your normal activities as soon as possible.

Symptoms that indicate the need for total hip replacement

Living with pain can be a challenge that affects your physical and emotional well-being. People with hip arthritis will experience pain, stiffness, and limited movement of the hip, which may interfere with daily activities. Although not all hip problems require surgery, total hip replacement surgery may be necessary for those who have severe hip pain and mobility issues. Here is an overview of some symptoms that indicate the need for a total hip replacement:

  • Chronic pain: Chronic pain in the hip joint, the thigh, and groin is a primary sign of hip arthritis. The pain may be sharp or dull, and it may increase when you stand, walk, or move the hip joint. People with severe hip arthritis may experience pain that wakes them up at night. Chronic pain that persists despite taking pain medication or using non-surgical treatments is a clear indication of the need for a total hip replacement.
  • Stiffness: Hip arthritis can cause stiffness in the hip joint, making it difficult to move or bend the hip. You may find your range of motion reduced, making routine activities like bending down to tie your shoes or getting in and out of a car challenging. Hip stiffness can also cause limping or favoring one leg over the other, potentially leading to further complications like back pain and difficulty walking.
  • Decreased mobility: As hip arthritis worsens, you may begin to notice reduced mobility or difficulty with simple tasks like walking, climbing stairs, or getting up from a chair. The decreased mobility may limit your independence and ability to perform everyday activities, which can be frustrating and lead to a diminished quality of life.
  • Deformity: In some cases, arthritis can lead to deformity of the hip joint, causing the leg to appear shorter or twisted. This deformity can affect your gait and lead to more severe pain and mobility issues over time. If you notice any changes in the shape or appearance of your hip joint, it’s important to consult with a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Pain that interferes with daily activities: If hip pain is interfering with your ability to perform everyday activities, it’s time to consider a total hip replacement. Activities such as getting dressed, bending, kneeling, and standing for extended periods can become unbearable with hip arthritis. It’s essential to discuss your symptoms with your doctor and determine the best course of action to improve your quality of life.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or notice a change in your hip joint, speak with a doctor as soon as possible. They can provide a comprehensive examination to determine if a total hip replacement is the right solution for your chronic pain and mobility issues.

Life After Total Hip Replacement

Recovering from total hip replacement surgery can be an intensive and challenging process, but many people find that the benefits far outweigh the temporary discomfort and inconvenience of the healing process. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what you can expect during the weeks and months after your hip replacement surgery.

  • Pain Management: In the first few weeks after surgery, it’s common to experience some pain and discomfort as your body adjusts to the new prosthetic joint. Your doctor will likely prescribe pain medication to help manage this discomfort. In addition to medications, there are a number of other strategies you can use to minimize pain, such as ice packs, physical therapy, and gentle exercise.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a critical aspect of recovery from a total hip replacement. Your physical therapist will guide you through a series of exercises designed to help you regain strength and mobility in your hip joint. These exercises may include gentle stretching, range-of-motion exercises, and strengthening exercises for the surrounding muscles.
  • Returning to Normal Activities: With time and patience, most people who undergo a hip replacement are able to return to their normal activities and hobbies. However, it’s important to take things slow at first and avoid high-impact activities that could damage your new joint. Your doctor will work with you to develop a personalized recovery plan that takes your goals and limitations into account.

In addition to the above points, there are a few other key facts to keep in mind as you navigate life after a total hip replacement:

  • Recovery time: While everyone’s recovery process is different, most people are able to resume normal activities within three to six months after surgery. However, it can take up to a year or more to fully regain your strength and mobility.
  • Lifetime care: While hip replacement surgery can significantly improve quality of life, it’s important to remember that your prosthetic joint will require ongoing care and monitoring. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for medication, exercise, and follow-up appointments to keep your hip joint healthy for the long haul.
  • Benefits of hip replacement: For many people, the benefits of a total hip replacement far outweigh the temporary discomfort of the recovery process. Improved mobility, reduced pain, and an overall better quality of life are just a few of the reasons why hip replacement surgery is considered a major but often life-changing procedure.

In conclusion, the recovery process after total hip replacement surgery can be challenging, but with the right mindset and support system, most people are able to regain their quality of life and return to the activities they love. With patience, perseverance, and the guidance of your healthcare team, you can look forward to a brighter, more mobile future.

Alternatives to Total Hip Replacement Surgery

If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain or arthritis in the hip joint, your doctor may have recommended total hip replacement surgery as a remedy to alleviate the discomfort. However, surgery is a major decision that comes with risks and recovery time. Fortunately, for those who are not quite ready to undergo the procedure, there are a number of alternative treatments available that can relieve pain and improve joint function. Here are some of the most effective options:

  • Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist can help you strengthen the muscles around your hip joint, increasing stability and reducing pain. Your therapist will also teach you exercises that can help improve your range of motion and flexibility.
  • Weight Loss and Low-Impact Exercise: Exercising regularly and shedding excess weight can help reduce the stress on your hip joint and alleviate pain. Low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, and yoga can be particularly beneficial because they strengthen muscle and improve joint mobility without putting undue pressure on the hip joint.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with arthritis and other joint conditions.

If the above options aren’t enough to manage your pain or provide adequate relief, your doctor may suggest more specialized treatments like:

Steroid Injections: Corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation and pain in the hip joint and can provide relief that lasts for several months.

Viscosupplementation: This treatment involves injecting a lubricating fluid into the hip joint, which can help reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. This treatment may provide relief for several months.

Finally, it’s important to note that while non-surgical treatments can offer temporary relief, for many patients with severe joint damage, total hip replacement surgery may be the best option for long-term relief. Be sure to consult with your doctor to determine which treatment option is right for you.

Alternative Treatment Description
Physical Therapy Working with a physical therapist to strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility.
Weight Loss and Low-Impact Exercise Reducing stress on the hip joint and strengthening muscles through low-impact exercise and weight loss.
Anti-Inflammatory Medications Over-the-counter pain relief that reduces inflammation and manages pain associated with arthritis and other joint conditions.
Steroid Injections Corticosteroids injected into the hip joint that reduce inflammation and pain and provide several months of relief.
Viscosupplementation A lubricating fluid injected into the hip joint that provides pain relief associated with osteoarthritis for several months.

Ultimately, the decision to undergo total hip replacement surgery or pursue alternative treatments is entirely up to the patient and their doctor. It’s important to carefully consider all available options and make an informed decision that will provide the greatest long-term relief.

Is Total Hip Replacement Considered Major Surgery? FAQs

1. What is total hip replacement surgery and when is it recommended?

Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure in which a diseased or damaged hip joint is replaced with an artificial one. It is usually recommended for patients who suffer from chronic hip pain, stiffness, and limited mobility due to conditions such as arthritis, hip fracture, and avascular necrosis.

2. Is total hip replacement a major surgery?

Yes, total hip replacement is considered a major surgery because it involves the removal of the damaged hip joint and replacement with an artificial one. It requires general anesthesia and typically requires a hospital stay.

3. How long does the surgery usually last?

The surgery typically lasts between 1-2 hours.

4. What is the recovery time for total hip replacement surgery?

The recovery time varies from person to person but typically takes 3-6 months. During this time, patients will need to follow a rehabilitation program prescribed by their doctor and avoid certain activities that could damage the new hip joint.

5. What are the risks associated with total hip replacement surgery?

The risks associated with total hip replacement surgery include infection, blood clots, nerve damage, and dislocation of the new hip joint.

6. Are there any alternatives to total hip replacement surgery?

There are alternatives to total hip replacement surgery, such as medication, physical therapy, and hip resurfacing. However, these alternatives may not be effective for all patients and ultimately, total hip replacement may be necessary.

7. Can I resume daily activities after total hip replacement surgery?

Yes, after the recovery period, patients can typically resume their daily activities, including exercise, with caution. However, some activities may need to be modified or avoided to prevent damage to the new hip joint.


Thanks for reading our FAQs on total hip replacement surgery. Remember, while this surgery is considered major, it can greatly improve your quality of life if you suffer from chronic hip pain and limited mobility. Talk to your doctor to learn more about this procedure and to determine if it’s right for you. Be sure to check back for more informative articles.