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Hip replacement surgery inovlves removing a damaged hip joint and replacing it with an artificial one (known as an implant).

The most common reason for hip replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. The cause of osteoarthritis is not always known. Howecver, in some it can develop due to a subtle shape abnormality such as hip dysplasia or femoroacetabular impingement syndrome. Other conditions that can cause hip joint damage include rheumatoid arthritis and hip fractures.

A hip replacement is major surgery, so it is usually only recommended if other treatments, such as physiotherapy or steroid injections, have not helped reduce pain or improve mobility. You may be offered hip replacement surgery if you have severe pain and stiffness in your hip joint and your mobility is reduced.

Decidiing when to have a hip replacement can be difficult. The things you need to consider are:

1. Is your pain interfering with your quality of life and sleep.

2. Does the pain interfer with everyday tasks, such as shopping or getting out of the bath.

3. Are you feeling depressed because of the pain and lack of mobility.

4. Is the pain stopping you from working having a social life.

A hip replacement can be done under a general anaesthetic (where you are asleep during the operation) or under a spinal anaesthetic (where you are awake but have no feeling from the waist down).

The surgeon makes a cut (incision) into the hip, removes the damaged hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint or implant. The surgery usually takes around 1 to 2 hours to complete.

Before you go into hospital, stay as active as you can. Strengthening the muscles around your hip will help your recovery. If you can, continue to do gentle exercise, such as walking and swimming, in the weeks and months before your operation. You may be referred to a physiotherapist, who will give you helpful exercises. 

You will usually be in hospital for 1 to 3 days, but recovery time can vary.

You may need to use crutches or a frame at first and a physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your hip muscles.

It is usually possible to return to light activities or office-based work within around 6 weeks. However, everyone recovers differently and it's best to speak to your surgeon or physiotherapist about when to return to normal activities.

Risks and complications of a hip replacement can include:

  • infection at the site of the surgery

  • injuries to the blood vessels or nerves

  • venous thromboembolism (VTE)  with blood clots that can either develop in the leg (DVT - deep vein thrombosis), lung (PE - pulmonary embolism) or els

  • a fracture in the bone around the hip replacement during or after the operation

  • differences in leg length

  • hip dislocation

However, the risk of serious complications is low.

There is also the risk that an artificial hip joint can wear out earlier than expected or go wrong in some way. Some people may require revision (redo) surgery to repair or replace the joint.

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