Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery FAQs

Adapted from an HSS Public and Patient Education Department Program

Total Hip Replacement FAQs

When is total hip replacement considered?

Total hip replacements are most often done to provide relief for severe arthritic conditions. The surgery is also performed for other problems like hip fractures. Most total hip replacement patients are over 55 years of age, however the surgery is sometimes performed on younger patients. Patients who are candidates for total hip replacement surgery generally have:

  • Severe pain that impedes work and everyday activities
  • Pain that can not be managed by anti-inflammatory medications, canes or walkers
  • Significant stiffness of the hip
  • Advanced arthritis or other problem

What are the risks of total hip replacement surgery?

Total hip replacement surgery is a major surgery and there are some potential risks that should be discussed with your doctor. Although the success rate for this procedure is high, common risks include:

  • Blood clots in the leg and pelvis
  • Infection in the hip
  • Dislocation of hip

Do patients have to go through rehabilitation after hip replacement, and is it age related?

Some patients recover sooner than others depending on age, health status, and response to rehabilitation.

The average time for full recovery is about two to three months and varies with each patient. Physical therapy begins while the patient is still in the hospital and continues either at home or in a specifically designated rehabilitation unit.

Outpatient therapy is generally recommended thereafter for up to six to eight weeks from the time of surgery. By that time, most patients have been advanced from a cane and can exercise on their own.

How successful is total hip replacement surgery?

The success rate for this surgery is high, with greater than 95% of patients experiencing relief from hip pain. The success rate of hip replacements 10 years after surgery is 90% to 95% and, at 20 years, 80% to 85%. Should an implant wear or loosen, revision to a new hip replacement is possible. (Find a hip replacement surgeon at HSS to suit your specific condition, location and insurance.)

If you have a minimally invasive hip replacement, is range of motion lost?

Hip motion is the same after minimally invasive surgery as with conventional hip replacement. Total hip replacement surgery is done to relieve pain and return patients to an optimal level of function. The rehabilitation process ensures that patients do specific exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the leg and hip.

What activities can I do following surgery?

Most surgeons will recommend that patients avoid high impact activities like running, aerobics and any sports that put stress on the hip. Walking, swimming, bicycling and golf are more acceptable, recommended activities prior to hip replacement surgery.

Total Knee Replacement FAQs

What is minimally invasive knee replacement?

Minimally invasive total knee replacement is a resurfacing knee replacement that is performed through a less invasive exposure that minimizes the cutting of the normal tendons around the knee and is performed through a smaller incision.

Who is a candidate for minimally invasive knee surgery?

Knee replacement surgery works best for patients with severe arthritis throughout the knee. This is seen most often in older adults, but can also occur in younger patients due to a significant injury or infection.

When arthritis knee pain severely limits the ability to walk, work or perform the most simple of tasks, knee replacement should be considered. (Find a knee replacement surgeon at HSS to suit your specific condition, location and insurance.)

Should you lose weight prior to knee surgery? Can excess weight cause arthritis of the knee?

Keeping your weight down is good for your knee and your overall health. Patients should make an effort to begin a preoperative program of exercise. Simple isometrics (muscle tensing exercises) help strengthen your leg muscles in preparation for postoperative walking.

Also, added weight, or being overweight, can result in knee pain from carrying a lot of weight around on the knees.

How do patients do after a knee operation? What can patients do to combat muscle weakness after surgery?

Knee replacement can correct the knee problem, but muscles remain weak and will only be strengthened through regular exercises.

Knee replacement surgery patients require physical therapy to regain range of motion and strengthen muscles. This therapy begins in the hospital with a physical therapist and continues thereafter.

Is there more pain associated with knee replacement versus hip replacement?

Due to advancements in pain management, the surgical team is able to keep patients very comfortable after surgery. While there is pain associated with this procedure, it can be controlled and is only temporary.


Steven B. Haas, MD
Chief of Knee Service, Hospital for Special Surgery
Attending Orthopedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Thomas P. Sculco, MD
Director, Complex Joint Reconstruction Center
Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus, Hospital for Special Surgery

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