Hip Replacement Surgery: Is It Time?

Medically Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 26, 2023
3 min read

Hip pain and stiffness can make walking and other everyday activities a challenge. Hip replacement surgery is a good option for a lot of people -- but it shouldn’t be your first option.

It might be right for you if:

Other treatments haven't worked.

You’ve tried these remedies and they didn't give you enough relief:

Daily life isn't easy.

It’s hard or painful for you to:

  • Walk
  • Stand up
  • Sit down
  • Bend over
  • Climb stairs
  • Shop for groceries

Your hip hurts when you’re not moving.

Even when you’re sitting still or lying in bed, your hip pain or stiffness still bothers you.

You're having issues with your mental health.

You’re cranky or irritable most of the time, or you have symptoms of depression like:

  • You feel sad or hopeless.
  • You’ve lost interest in stuff you used to enjoy.
  • You can’t sleep, or you sleep too much.
  • You’re tired all the time.
  • You’re anxious or restless.
  • You’ve put on or lost weight.

Your doctor has ruled out other health issues.

Sometimes hip pain or other symptoms can be caused by other health issues. These include:

Your hip is damaged.

Some causes of hip pain, including conditions like arthritis or age-related wear and tear, can eventually cause major damage to your hip. The worse the damage, the harder it can be for your doctor to fix your hip with surgery.

If you’re in pain or it has become hard to move around, hip replacement surgery may seem like a no-brainer. But all types of surgery involve risks, and a hip replacement is no different. These include:

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • A replacement hip won’t last forever. Most begin to loosen or have other issues in 10 to 20 years. If you have replacement surgery when you're young, you may have to have a second down the road.
  • You may need “revision” or follow-up procedures.
  • Full recovery from the surgery can take 6 to 12 months. The odds are good you’ll eventually be pain free, but that’s not always the case.
  • You won’t be able to drive right away. How long you’ll have to wait depends on your recovery, but it could be weeks or months.
  • You may have to walk with a cane or other kind of assistance.
  • You’ll need physical therapy to learn how to move with your new hip. You’ll also learn exercises to help your hip heal the right way.
  • You may have to make changes to your home. Even if you have someone to help you, you may need to install handrails, a shower bench, or other items to help during your recovery.
  • Depending on your insurance, the cost of the surgery can be high. This is especially true if you’re young and there’s a chance you may need surgery again in 10 years or so.