What to expect from hip replacement surgery

27 August 2019

Hip replacements are a fairly common procedure in the UK, with almost 130,000 people opting for surgery each year, but many people have questions about the surgery itself, and about the recovery period and aftercare.

We asked Spire Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Alun Wall to explain the procedure and the benefits you can see after a hip replacement, as well as answering some of the more common questions you may have.

What happens during a typical hip replacement operation?
A hip replacement is a surgical procedure where you replace the diseased or the arthritic joint with an artificial joint. So, with a hip, it's a ball and a socket. So, you take out the patient's diseased or arthritic ball and socket and introduce an artificial ball and socket. A typical hip replacement procedure is the patient coming down to the theatre suite, undergoing either a general anaesthetic or a spinal anaesthetic.

Dr Alun Wall practices at Spire Manchester Hospital.

It's more usual these days for it to be a spinal anaesthetic, and that's an injection into a person's back, which numbs the legs and allows us to carry on, to do the operation in a pain-free way. We open up the hip joint, perform the procedure, replacing the hip joint, and then close back up again. It usually takes approximately an hour to do.

How long does it take to recover from a hip replacement?
Postoperatively, there'll be some pain after an operation. That's very typical. But, it's quite surprising how well tolerated hip replacement surgery is. It's much better tolerated than knee replacement for example. People usually do not complain of excessive pain. It's usually relatively comfortable when they are lying still or when they're sitting still. Obviously, there's some discomfort when they're mobilising initially in the first few days.

How a hip replacement takes place

The pain will settle very quickly and within a week people are quite comfortable and they're able to walk around reasonably well with the aid of sticks or crutches.

Can you tell us more about the benefits of hip replacement surgery?
The benefit of hip replacement surgery is essentially improving a person's quality of life. It's an operation for pain. People who are in constant pain have a very poor quality of life. So, when a hip replacement is performed, they're able to enjoy a quality of life which is similar to what they had before they started getting pain in their hip.

How successful is hip replacement surgery?
Hip replacement is a very successful operation. It's second only to cataract surgery. Success rates for hip replacement are in excess of 95%.


If you regularly experience hip pain or restricted motion, speak to a consultant at your local Spire hospital to learn more about treatments and procedures that can help you get back to doing what you love.