Q: My doctor has recommended a total hip replacement. I would like to know more about that procedure. How long will it take me to get back on my feet and what is the long-range outcome?
A: The hip joint is made up of a cup-shaped cavity (acetabulum) in the hipbone into which fits the head of the thighbone (femur). During total hip replacement surgery, the head of the femur is removed. The acetabulum is enlarged and a layer of special plastic is inserted. A metal sphere attached to a stem is inserted into the remaining part of the femur as a replacement for the discarded femoral head.
Hospitalization now averages nine to 10 days, and rehabilitation progress varies. When bone cement is used to fix the artificial components to the femur and hipbone, two crutches are generally used for six to 12 weeks. Most people then gradually make the transition to walking without a cane or crutches over the next one to two months. It takes about three to five months to return to full strength and energy.