Most Common Side Effects After Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement surgery is most frequently used to alleviate painful symptoms experienced by patients with osteoarthritis, a condition in which the hip bone progressively degrades, Cedars-Sinai reports. During this procedure, a surgeon removes damaged bone within the hip and replaces it with prosthetic components made of metal, plastic or ceramic. Before having this procedure performed, patients should be aware of the most common side effects that arise after hip replacement surgery.

A female doctor looking at x-rays on a laptop of a hip replacement.
Credit: Spotmatik/iStock/Getty Images


Patients commonly experience sensations of pain within the hip joint after hip replacement surgery, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, or AAOS, explains. Hip discomfort can interfere with a patient's ability to stand or walk normally during the first few days following surgery. A doctor typically prescribes pain medication that affected patients can use to control or manage hip pain symptoms. Generally, hip pain progressively subsides as a patient begins to heal from hip replacement surgery. Prolonged, increased or severe pain can be a sign of infection and affected patients should seek prompt care from a medical professional.

Hip Joint Loosening or Dislocation

Loosening of the hip joint and hip dislocation are common side effects experienced by patients after hip replacement surgery, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The hip bone prosthetic inserted into the hip joint during surgery is typically smaller than a patient's natural hip bone. This size difference makes it easier for the prosthetic hip ball to slip out of the hip socket. The newly placed hip joint may also inflame or irritate surrounding tissues, which can degrade the remaining healthy hip bone tissue. Bone degradation can cause the hip joint to loosen, increasing a patient's risk of experiencing a hip dislocation. Hip dislocation or joint loosening can be painful and may require additional surgery to replace the prosthetic hip joint into its proper location.

Blood Clots

Blood clots within the legs, a condition called deep vein thrombosis, are a common side effect of this type of hip surgery, AAOS reports. Affected patients can develop unusual leg pain that is accompanied by swelling or skin discoloration. These blood clot symptoms arise due to poor blood flow through the leg. If a blood clot detaches from the inside of a blood vessel in the leg, it can flow through the bloodstream into a patient's lungs. This life-threatening side effect after hip replacement surgery can cause severe breathing difficulties and requires immediate medical attention.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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