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This is not your parents' hip replacement

An older woman with hiking poles stands on a trail, smiling.

Discover a few ways the surgery has gotten better.

Hip replacement surgery has been helping people improve mobility and reduce pain for decades, and it's gotten even better over the years. New techniques and technology have led to improvements in recovery time, less pain after surgery and longer-lasting implants. Here are five ways hip replacement surgery is better than ever.

1. Less pain.

Hip replacements today use improved anesthesia and pain control techniques both during and after surgery, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) reports. For instance, in the past, general anesthesia was the norm for total hip replacement surgery. Today, some patients are able to have regional anesthesia such as nerve blocks. That can reduce pain in the days after surgery.

2. Shorter hospital stays.

In the past, you could expect to spend a week in the hospital after hip replacement surgery. Today you might go home after just one to two days—or even the same day. That's partly due to improved anesthesia and pain control options. And for many patients, minimally invasive surgery is now an option for hip replacement. This type of surgery uses smaller incisions and causes less damage to muscles, and it may shorten healing times. Changes in surgical technique and new medications also reduce blood loss during the operation, which can help you go home sooner.

3. Rapid recovery.

When your pain is under control, you can start your physical therapy (PT) and begin to get stronger sooner. In fact, your PT may start the same day of your surgery.

4. Longer-lasting implants.

Hip implants are made of durable materials. But in the past, the liner that replaces the cushioning cartilage in the hip tended to wear out sooner than other parts of the implant, often after just 10 years. Improved materials mean liners last longer. Many hip implants inserted today will still be going strong after 20 years.

5. Customized implants

New technology can help today's surgeons fit implants precisely and place them accurately. Using computer models and, in some cases, MRI or CT scans, surgeons can make a virtual model of your hip joint—helping them to guide your surgery with precision. Robotic-assisted surgery can help surgeons by using very small movements to adjust your hip to receive the implant. Some surgeons create 3-D guides for each patient to ensure proper alignment of the new hip. These new technologies can improve the accuracy of your surgery, but researchers don't know yet if they lead to better long-term outcomes, the AAHKS reports. Your surgeon can help you decide if these new systems would be right for you.

Is a new hip in your future?

Hip replacement surgery has helped many people get back to the activities they love. Talk to your doctor to learn out about the benefits of the surgery.

Reviewed 10/7/2021

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