A hip replacement is a surgical procedure where a painful hip joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint of plastic and metal components, as defined by WebMD. Such procedures may involve a minimally-invasive two to five-inch suture or the traditional eight to 10-inch incision.
A general anesthesia is administered to place hip replacement patients in a deep sleep and relax the muscles, explains WebMD. Once the surgeon exposes the hip joint, the thighbone is cut with a saw to remove the ball of the joint. The artificial joint is then attached to the thighbone with cement or other material. Any damaged cartilage on the hipbone is then removed and the artificial joint is attached. Risks involved with hip replacement surgery include blood clots, unequal leg length, loosened fat in the bone marrow and nerve injury.
The procedure typically requires a four to six-day hospitalization. Some patients begin physical therapy as soon as the day following surgery, which may continue for weeks or even months after the operation, according to WebMD. Twisting or pivoting on the treated leg should be avoided for six to 12 months after the operation. Patients are also advised to obtain physician approval prior to returning to activities such as sports, exercise, driving and sexual activity.