What Is A Hip Replacement?

Posted on August 26, 2021

There are more than 60,000 hip replacement surgeries each year in Canada. It has become one of the most common surgeries in the country due to the aging population.

If you're reading this article, you may be about to get your very own hip replacement, or know someone who is. You probably have a ton of questions about why you need it, what recovery looks like, and if insurance will cover the cost.

These are all great questions and we go through each one of them in this article. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this surgery.

Who Qualifies for Hip Replacement Surgery?

When you go into the doctor and complain about hip pain, they will be sure to check you out for any reason that you may need a hip replacement. It is likely that they will recommend hip replacement surgery, which is a surgery to replace parts of the hip bone with artificial parts, if you suffer from osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, or an injury to the hip joint.

The doctor will also want to discuss the level of pain you are in. You should tell the doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty doing everyday tasks like climbing stairs
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of the pain
  • Inability to do activities you used to participate in
  • You feel as though your quality of life has gone downhill from the pain

It is also important to note that you may need to try other forms of treatment before qualifying for a hip replacement.


The biggest reason that people qualify for a hip replacement is because they suffer from osteoarthritis, which is the most common and severe type of arthritis. It mostly affects middle-aged adults, but some people may be younger when diagnosed. There are a few reasons this can occur:

  • Taking on heavy workloads
  • Breaking a bone that did not heal correctly
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Genetics with specific bone formations

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint diseases that leads to the breakdown of the cartilage and bone surrounding it.

There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are ways to manage it. You can try exercises and stretches, physical therapy, and medications. If those do not work, that is when you qualify for hip replacement surgery.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unlike osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder with no specific cause. This type of arthritis causes inflammation of the joints, which can cause deformities in your bones and surrounding areas from where the arthritis originates.

If a child has Rheumatoid arthritis, they can possibly outgrow the disease. However, it can affect their bone development. If you are diagnosed with this type of arthritis as an adult, you will have to permanently live with the disease.

You may be experiencing Rheumatoid arthritis if you have some of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased movement
  • Difficulty grabbing things 
  • Swelling of the joints
  • Stiffness, usually upon waking in the morning

If you have Rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor will do everything they can to help manage your symptoms and pain. As a last resort, they may suggest that you have a joint replacement surgery.

Traumatic Arthritis

Traumatic arthritis stems from a physical injury to a bone or joint on your body. It is a progressive and degenerative arthritis that occurs after injury or consistent wear and tear on the joints.

Since injuries may not always heal correctly, there may be more of a likelihood for wear and tear for people who experience frequent injuries, like athletes.

Treatments such as steroid injections, physical therapy, and ice and heat therapy can help reduce the symptoms of traumatic arthritis. However, total joint replacement would be the last resort to reduce the pain.

How Long Does Hip Replacement Surgery Take?

If you are about to undergo hip replacement surgery, you'll have to make plans to take off of work and have someone help you out after the surgery. All of these plans should be made well in advance of the surgery day.

Since there are different types of hip replacement surgery, each one will take a different amount of time.  Typically however, the surgery is usually completed within 1-2 hours.

Some Different Hip Implants

If you have a minimally invasive hip replacement, you will have a shorter hospital stay and less pain around other areas of the leg and back. There will only be two small incisions on your hip.

If you have a traditional hip replacement, where both the ball and socket are replaced, it will take longer because the surgeon has to go in and cut and detach some of the muscles.

Both procedures typically take between 1-2 hours to complete. You will most likely have to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days after as well to make sure you recover properly unless it is a minimally invasive surgery where you may be released on the same day.

During surgery, a ceramic ball will be put inside the thigh bone for extra stability. A metal cup will attach to the socket to allow for easier movement.

How Long Do Hip Replacements Last?

There is not an exact number for how long hip replacements last in patients because everyone's body is different. On average, hip replacements should last about 25 years. Although, that can be shorter or longer depending on the patient and how the replacement works.

It is estimated that in about 90% of patients, a hip replacement will still work well after 15 years. From this point, the lifespan of the replacement will start to dwindle because the parts may loosen or become damaged.

The good news is that technology is constantly evolving! What is 15 years today may be 20 years in just a few months!

ohip coverage for seniors

How Long Is Hip Replacement Recovery?

The recovery time will be different from person to person, but takes around 2-4 weeks on average. Different factors will impact how you recover such as:

  • Nutrition and diet before surgery
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Other lifestyle factors

During hip replacement recovery, a person is expected to participate in rehabilitation and physical therapy to ensure the joints work properly and get stronger. There will be exercises provided for you to do at home as well.

To speed up recovery, there is also prehabilitation which is rehab before the surgery. Since the more active you are before, the better off you are post-surgery.

When it comes to participating in activities like driving, sports, and work after surgery, you should discuss with your doctor when it is safe to do so. Most doctors will recommend waiting at least a month for all of these activities.

Possible Complications and Risks of Hip Replacement

Of course, there is no surgery without risks or complications. And a hip replacement surgery is no exception.

Since hip replacement surgery is working on joints and bones, there is a possibility of a hip dislocation or bone fracture near the site of the incision. There is also the risk of nerve damage if there is a slight movement in the wrong way. If this happens, your recovery time will be much longer.

You are also at risk of infection near the incision site, so if you notice any drainage near the site, pain, swelling, or a fever, you need to call your doctor.

During surgery, you may also experience complications with bleeding or blood clots post-surgery. It's always important to notice how you are feeling and call your doctor with any questions or concerns after surgery.

browsing the Canada health care plan

Does My Provincial Insurance Cover Hip Replacement Surgery?

Most provincial health care plans will cover the costs of hip replacement surgery. With these coverages, your hospital stay, medication, surgery, and meals and medications at the hospital will be covered.  Upon discharge, the doctor will prescribe you enough meds to get through your recovery which is when your private health care plan would kick in.  

You will have to make sure that your surgery is deemed "medically necessary" by your insurance company before going into surgery. This will prevent you from dealing with a stressful situation after.

Road to Hip Recovery

If you end up having to get a hip replacement, you may feel overwhelmed and stressed. And that's normal.

Hopefully these questions and answers gave you a bit of peace of mind before your surgery. And imagine how great you'll be feeling after the surgery! You'll be back to your old self again.

If you have any questions about what your insurance covers and want to make sure you have the best plan, contact us at Insurdinary and we'll answer all of your questions.

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