Signs You're Ready For Hip Replacement

Signs You Need (Or Don't Need) A Hip Replacement

hip replacement time
Your surgeon can help you decide if the time is right for hip replacement. John Fedele / Getty Images

A total hip replacement is a major surgery, and therefore deciding to have the procedure done is a big decision.   Not only does the surgery involve the risks of surgery, having anesthesia, and going to the hospital, but there is also a rehabilitation time that follows.  Depending on the type of surgery, and the condition of the patient having surgery, rehab can last several months.

Signs You're Ready For Hip Replacement

Here are some signs to look for to help you decide if the time is right, or not right, for hip replacement surgery:

  • You have hip/groin pain that keeps you awake, or awakens you, at night.
  • You have hip pain that limits activities necessary to go about your daily activities (getting up from a chair, climbing stairs, etc.).
  • You have hip pain that limits activities that give you pleasure (walking for exercise, traveling, shopping, etc.).
  • You have tried other treatments for months or longer, and you still have persistent hip pain.

There are many other factors you and your doctor must consider prior to surgery, including age, overall health, and bone density, but the list above will give you an idea when you should begin to consider hip replacement surgery.

Signs You Are Not Ready For Hip Replacement

  • Your hip pain does not limit normal activities.
  • Your symptoms are improving with less invasive treatments (medications, activity modification, etc...).
  • You have not tried simpler treatments.
  • You are only limited from performing activities such as running or skiing.

    Patients who fit these criteria usually need more effort at treating their hip pain with more conservative measures. These non-surgical treatments may include steps such as activity modifications, physical therapy, medications, ambulatory aids, and rest.

    One of the important aspects of arthritis that is true of any joint, including hips, is that people tend to have symptoms that wax and wane in terms of severity.

    While symptoms may acutely worsen and be severe, the decision to have a joint replacement should be made not because of a sudden increase in discomfort, but because of sustained problems that don't respond to noninvasive treatments. If a sudden flare up of symptoms occurs, the goal should be to alleviate the symptoms with simple steps. Hip replacement is a treatment for more long-standing, persistent symptoms of pain and disability. 

    What Next?

    If you get to the point where you are ready for hip replacement, the next step is to sit down with your doctor and discuss the plan for getting you ready for surgery.  Careful planning will lead to a smoother process, a better outcome, and less likelihood of possible complications.  There are a number of step that patients have to take prior to surgery, and your surgery, and his or her staff, will help assist you making these preoperative arrangements.

    Most often patients will meet with not only their surgeon prior to a hip replacement, but also their primary doctor, and any specialists they regularly see for management of chronic conditions.  Many hospital have patients come to the hospital to meet staff including nursing and physical therapy.

      Often arrangements for post-surgical treatment will be made prior to having your procedure. 

    Preoperative education and understanding of the surgical procedure, the post-operative recovery, and the rehabilitation timeline are critical to ensuring you have a smooth recovery from hip replacement. We know that patients who recover most quickly and effectively are those that have a solid understanding of the steps they are going to take and the support they will need to get there. Some planning before hip replacement can pay off significantly in terms of a smoother recovery.


    Mäkelä KT, et al. "Total hip arthroplasty for primary osteoarthritis in patients fifty-five years of age or older." J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2008 Oct;90(10):2160-70.

    Mahomed NN, et al "Rates and outcomes of primary and revision total hip replacement in the United States medicare population." J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2003 Jan;85-A(1):27-32.

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