Hip Replacement Complications

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In the early technique of hip replacement (HR) several decades ago, the length of hospital stays were 1-2 weeks and recovery was within several months. But today, the surgery is much more modern that can provide faster recovery, patient only needs to stay at hospital about 2-3 days and can resume their daily routines much earlier. However still, there is the risk of complications that should be concerned as well.

Topic overview

The damaged hip is commonly caused by arthritis, especially osteoarthritis or OA (it is the most common form of arthritis). Knees, spines, and hips are common sites where OA occurs. See this section for more information about OA of the hip.

Currently, OA is irreversible or still has no cure. But this joint disease is treatable and there are some treatment options for coping. If the disease and its symptoms don’t respond to non-surgical treatment options, a surgery can be recommended.

The degenerated cartilage in the joint of hip is usually the main reason behind OA of the hip. HR surgery is not intended to restore the damaged cartilage. It is more likely to be focused to help improve the joint pain, mobility of patient (improving living skills), and restore the function of the affected hip as normal as possible.

image_illustration227The following are other common conditions that can damage the joint of hip which then may push you to take HR surgery:

  1. Other types of arthritis especially such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is a kind of arthritis associated with the abnormality of immune system.
  2. Hip fracture! The joint of hip can become severely damaged due to accident or a fall.

In most cases, conditions treated with HR surgery are age related. Therefore, this treatment option is often used in elderly people aged 60 or older. But, sometime it can be carried out in young adults.

HR surgery can be partial or total – depending on the severity and other factors such as your overall health or whether you have other health conditions, your doctor will know the best option you need to take. In this surgery, the damaged hip will be removed and then replaced by an artificial component called prosthesis.

Over time, the artificial component can wear away. On average, prosthesis can be used for about 15 -20 years. In elderly people, they can retain it for the rest of their life.

But young adults who take HR are at greater likelihood of taking the revision surgery, subsequent implant replacement. The first HR you take is called primary surgery.

The risk of complications

Many doctors say that HR often works successfully.

However like most things in major surgeries, hip replacement surgery is also associated with certain surgical and medical risks. Therefore, it’s important to discuss these issues before you take the treatment!

Joint problems

These include:

The risk of dislocation

This complication usually occur when the joint of hip come out of its socket. Typically, it occurs several months after the treatment, the time of when the hip with surgery is still healing.

To cope with it, further surgery is usually needed to fix the dislocation and put the joint back to the right place!


There is chance for the soft tissues around the implant become hard and stiff, making difficulty movement or decreased mobility. Fortunately, this is usually temporary and painless.

If you find it get worse or don’t improve, some treatments are available for coping and prevention. These include the use of some medicines and radiation therapy.

Loosening of the joint

This may be the most common complication from hip replacement. And it’s normal to have it about 10-15 years or more after the surgery – though it can occur at any time. Unstable joint is usually the main symptom or may be followed with pain.

It usually occurs when the bone around the implant is thinning or the artificial component in the hollow of the bone loosens over time. The artificial sockets also can wear and tear as the age, another possible cause behind loosening of the joint.

Revision surgery can be considered if you experience this complication. In elderly who take HR surgery, revision surgery is rare – but it is more common when you take HR surgery at young age, as noted before.

Blood clots

In the first weeks after you take the surgery, another possible complication you may have is blood clot. Fortunately, it is rare.

Blood clots associated with HR surgery are commonly divided into two common categories; pulmonary embolism (it occurs inside the lungs) and deep vein thrombosis (it occurs inside the leg, typically one of the legs).

If you think you may have this complication, you should find immediate medical advice since it can be serious! The following are some symptoms of pulmonary embolism:


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