Hip Joint Replacement

Severe arthritis is a common cause of disability. Everyday activities become extremely painful and sometimes impossible. Simple acts like walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a chair or car, and putting on shoes and socks are severely limited. The resulting disability can even disrupt sleep and mood. Severe arthritis is the most common reason for a total hip replacement.

Hip replacement surgery can radically improve pain and function so that your quality of life and ability to care for yourself get better. The durability of newer implants and techniques means that today’s hip replacements should provide long- lasting relief and improved quality of life.

Before the actual surgery, your expert specialist at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County will discuss recovery and a rehabilitation plan with you. The objective is to get you home sooner, help you regain strength and function quickly, and help you resume independent living.

The Procedure

During total hip replacement, the damaged ball and socket are replaced with implants (also called a prosthesis or an artificial joint). The ball implant is inserted into the femur(thigh bone) and glued with bone cement. Today there are also implants that allow bone to grow in to them, without the need for cement to hold it in place.

In open hip replacement surgery, under general anesthesia, a 10-12 inch incision is made on the side of the hip to expose the bones of the joint. The head of the femur is cut off, and the socket is ground down to prepare it for the new lining. The surgeon puts the liner in the socket. The implant that replaces the head of the femur is inserted into the long bone of the femur. At this point, the surgeon will test the new socket to assure the joint moves easily, and doesn’t dislocate. Any muscle or soft tissue is repaired and the patient is moved to recovery to let the anesthesia wear off.

Partial hip replacement is where only the head of the femur is replaced. In hip resurfacing, the cup is replaced and the ball is resurfaced with a metal cap.


  • Blood clots in the legs
  • Infection
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Change in leg length
  • Loosening of the artificial hip


The type of implant may increase the risk of serious complications. There are known complications with metal-on-metal implants. Revision surgery may be needed if the joint becomes infected, or dislocated.

Technical advancements in hip replacement implants have made them more durable, longer-lasting and safer. The newer implants can last over 30 years, and so can be used in people younger than 65.

After Surgery

This is a hospital based procedure and the patient will likely spend 2-3 days there to recover. This may include doing gentle exercises in bed to facilitate blood flow. Even standing and walking with assistance may be attempted to speed recovery. Discharge will be considered when pain is controlled and the patient can:

  • Get in and out of bed
  • Walk short distances with assistance
  • Eat sitting up
  • Do easy exercises, and
  • Follow safety measures to avoid dislocation

Often patients’ are anxious to be self sufficient and active as soon as possible. But we all heal at different rates. So long as the team works toward full rehabilitation, a good outcome is probable.

Pain management is essential to rehabilitation.

Your recovery and rehabilitation plan will be fully discussed with you before surgery so you can plan ahead for your recovery and rehabilitation. It is imperative to follow movement restrictions to protect the new hip from dislocating, which can be very painful and even cause serious complications that might require more surgery.

Most patients are able to resume many activities about 6 weeks after surgery, and are able to take care of themselves. After three months, most patients are about 90% recovered. But it can take a full year for total recovery.

Orthopaedic Specialists of North County has been serving the residents of San Diego county including Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Solana Beach California for over 40 years. Life is motion, and we welcome the opportunity to serve your needs with compassionate care and skill using the most advanced technology and treatments available.

"The entire team at OSNC is great, very professional and took the time to put me at ease. And I only have praise for the Dr. Erik Stark, a wonderful doctor who never disappoints!" Patient of Dr. Erik Stark
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