What Are the Complications and Side Effects of Total Hip Replacement Surgery?

side effects of total hip replacement surgery

Hip arthroplasty or total hip replacement is an amazing technique for people with long-term hip pains and little movement abilities. This procedure is normally safe and effective; however, just like other medicines, it also has some risks. This blog will examine the different aspects of hip replacement surgery and look at the risks during the procedure, as well as what one can expect after treatment. Furthermore, we shall give knowledge on their management as well as an idea of when to see a doctor for complete recovery.

Complications of Total Hip Replacement Procedure

In the intricate realm of total hip replacement surgery, the pursuit of relief from chronic pain and improved mobility is not without its challenges. Let's navigate the nuances of this transformative procedure, beginning with a closer look at the potential complications that may arise during the surgical process:

1. Infection:

One of the primary concerns during any surgical procedure is the risk of infection. In total hip replacement surgery, an infection can occur at the site of the incision or deep within the joint. The use of sterile techniques and antibiotics helps mitigate this risk, but vigilance is crucial.

2. Blood Clots:

Postoperative blood clot formation, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a potential complication. Left unattended, a blood clot can escape from the vein wall and result in pulmonary embolism, a condition which needs urgent attention. With timely detection, pulmonary embolism can be treated with anti-clotting medication.

Blood thinners and early mobilisation are often prescribed to reduce this risk. However, patients should remain vigilant for symptoms such as swelling, pain, and redness in the legs. Gadgets that can be encased around the afflicted leg to offer intermittent pneumatic compression can lower the chances of DVT.

3. Dislocation:

Hip joint dislocation is a rare but serious complication. This occurs when the artificial joint becomes displaced from its normal position. Following postoperative guidelines on movement restrictions and precautions is essential to minimise the risk of dislocation.

4. Implant Loosening:

Over time, the artificial joint may loosen from the bone. This complication often surfaces years after the surgery and may require revision surgery to address the issue. Regular follow-ups with the orthopaedic surgeon are vital for monitoring the stability of the implant.

5. Nerve and Blood Vessel Damage:

During surgery, there is a risk of injuring nearby nerves and blood vessels. This can lead to numbness, weakness, or changes in sensation. A skilled surgeon employs precision techniques to minimise such risks, but patients should be aware of these possibilities.

6. Complications from Anesthesia:

Total hip surgery usually calls for the usage of general anaesthesia, which has a small risk of strokes, pneumonia, heart attacks, and blood clots. However, these complications are very rare since neccessary precautions are taken in line with the patient's medical history. Surgeons are also equipped with the necessary measures to follow in cases where these complications arise.

Side Effects of Total Hip Replacement Surgery

1. Pain and Discomfort:

Postoperative pain is common and expected after total hip replacement surgery. This discomfort is typically managed with pain medications prescribed by the healthcare provider. However, patients need to communicate their pain levels for appropriate adjustments in medication.

2. Swelling and Bruising:

Swelling and bruising around the surgical site are normal reactions to the trauma of surgery. Elevating the leg, applying ice, and adhering to the prescribed hip replacement exercises can help alleviate these side effects.

3. Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion:

Initially, patients may experience stiffness and a restricted range of motion in the replaced hip. Consistent participation in rehabilitation exercises, as guided by physical therapists, is crucial for restoring flexibility and strength.

4. Leg Length Discrepancy:

In some cases, patients may notice a slight difference in leg length following hip replacement surgery. This is usually due to pre-existing conditions and is carefully addressed by the surgical team. However, persistent concerns should be discussed with the healthcare provider.

5. Allergic Reactions:

Although rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to materials used in the artificial joint. Symptoms may include rash, itching, or generalised discomfort. Swift communication with the healthcare team is essential if such reactions occur.

How to Manage Side Effects After Hip Replacement Surgery

1. Follow Rehabilitation Guidelines:

Adhering to the prescribed hip replacement exercises is paramount for a successful recovery. These exercises aim to improve strength, flexibility, and joint function. Regular physical therapy sessions help monitor progress and address any concerns.

2. Pain Management:

Open communication with the healthcare provider is crucial for effective pain management. Medications should be taken as prescribed, and any unusual or severe pain should be promptly reported.

3. Activity Modification:

While it's important to engage in physical activities, it's equally crucial to avoid high-impact activities and movements that may jeopardise the stability of the artificial joint. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate level of activity for your specific case.

4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle:

A balanced diet, adequate hydration, and maintaining a healthy weight contribute significantly to the overall success of hip replacement surgery. These factors promote healing and reduce the risk of complications.

When Should You Consult Your Doctor?

1. Persistent Pain and Swelling:

While some level of discomfort is expected, persistent or worsening pain and swelling may indicate an underlying issue, such as infection or implant problems. Contact your healthcare provider promptly if you experience these symptoms.

2. Signs of Infection:

Redness, warmth, increased pain, or drainage from the surgical site are potential signs of infection. If any of these symptoms occur, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial to prevent complications of total hip replacement.

3. Sudden Changes in Mobility:

A sudden decrease in range of motion or difficulty bearing weight on the operated leg may signal a problem. These changes should be reported to your healthcare provider for further evaluation.

4. Unusual Allergic Reactions:

If you suspect an allergic reaction to any medications or materials used in the surgery, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Allergic reactions, though rare, require prompt attention.


Total hip replacement surgery has revolutionised the lives of countless individuals, providing relief from chronic pain and restoring mobility. While complications and side effects are potential considerations, the majority of patients experience successful outcomes with proper care and adherence to postoperative guidelines.

Understanding the possible challenges and actively participating in the rehabilitation process are key components of a smooth recovery journey. Regular communication with the healthcare team ensures that any concerns are promptly addressed, allowing individuals to confidently step into a future free from the constraints of hip pain.