About hip replacement

Don't let hip pain slow you down

If you are living with chronic hip pain that isn’t getting better with physical therapy and medications, you may need a hip replacement. At UW Health, we provide hip replacement surgery to improve your mobility and relieve your pain.

What is hip replacement?

When you get a hip replacement, your surgeon removes damaged bone, tissue and cartilage from your hip joint. The surgeon attaches plastic and metal replacements to the healthy parts of your hip. You get a new joint that moves smoothly and without pain.

Important facts

Hip replacement can help people with arthritis in the hip from wear and tear, hip dysplasia, rheumatoid arthritis, injury and avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply). Your doctor may recommend a hip replacement if other treatments, such as medicines, walking aids or physical therapy do not reduce your pain and improve your mobility.

Once a treatment only for those over age 60, hip replacement also helps younger, active people.

Your doctor looks at your overall health and activity level to decide if hip replacement surgery is the best treatment for you.

Your doctor checks the level of wear and tear on your hip joint and the severity of your pain. If you cannot perform regular daily tasks and other treatments do not improve your pain, a replacement may be the right treatment for you.

UW Health orthopedic surgeons continue to evaluate and refine current and new methods of total hip replacement surgery. After an evaluation, a treatment recommendation is made based on your needs and condition. In hip replacement surgery, the hip can be reached through the side of the hip (posterolateral, anterolateral or lateral), the front of the leg (anterior) or through a combination of these. In some cases, robotic-assisted surgery is used. Some people may be able to have both (bilateral) hips replaced at the same time or have same-day (outpatient) hip replacement surgery and be back home the same day.

Treatment process

Preparing for hip replacement surgery

The UW Health joint replacement surgeons and orthopedic team have developed a care plan to guide you through your preparation, hospital stay and recovery from surgery.

What you should know

Our goal is to provide you with the care and support needed to get through your joint replacement and back to the things you love to do. A Total Joints Nurse Coordinator is available to ensure a smooth transition from surgery to recovery. We also encourage you to choose a family member or friend who can act as a personal support person or "coach" as you go through the joint replacement process.

Joints 101 is a pre-surgery class that gives you and your support person the opportunity to learn what to expect throughout the joint replacement process. You will get information to prepare for your joint replacement, learn what your rehabilitation will be like, meet other people going through joint replacement surgery and have an opportunity to get your questions answered. Your attendance is strongly encouraged.

Patients who are scheduled for surgery have access to this free online educational system that provides you and anyone you designate with information before and after surgery. TotalCare includes checklists and reminders to guide you through the joint replacement process, educational materials, informative videos and patient self-reports that provide your orthopedic team with feedback.

On your surgery day, your team meets you at the hospital. Once you are comfortable in the operating room, an anesthesiologist will put you to sleep so you do not feel pain during the procedure.

Your surgeon reaches your hip from the back or side of the hip or the front of the leg. Your hip replacement team may use minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgery. Your doctor will decide the best approach before your surgery, based on your imaging and condition. 

During the procedure, your surgeon:

  • Removes the diseased bone tissue and cartilage from your hip joint

  • Replaces the ball of the hip (head of the femur) and the hip’s socket with new parts

The replacement parts include:

  • A plastic cup that replaces your hip socket

  • A metal ball that replaces your hip ball 

  • A metal stem that attaches the new ball to your thigh bone

  • Your new hip parts let the hip move in a natural, fluid manner.

 Depending on your surgery, you may spend a night or two in the hospital or go home the same day as your surgery.  You will begin physical therapy in the hospital. Your care team will explain precautions you need to follow as you heal, such as no heavy lifting and not crossing your knees or thighs. It will take six to eight weeks of physical therapy to fully recover after hip replacement.

Meet our team

Experienced hip replacement care

At UW Health, we perform thousands of hip replacement surgeries each year, and some of our orthopedic surgeons perform joint replacement procedures exclusively.

We have extensive experience in both routine and complicated hip replacements. The hip replacement team at UW Health includes experts in joint replacement, orthopedic surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation medicine.

Orthopedic surgery


Hip replacement locations

We provide specialized hip replacement care at UW Health clinics in Madison.

Patient stories

Life-changing inspiration

Andy North swinging a golf club
Andy's story

Two-time U.S. Open golf champion Andy North turned to UW Health when he finally decided that he couldn’t put off hip replacement surgery any longer.

Jay Wilson getting ready for his surgery
Jay's story

A total hip replacement put Jay Wilson back on the sidelines covering Badger football.

Rob Zaleksi walking on a trail in the woods
Rob's story

Rob's life was transformed by two hip replacements, giving him a new outlook on the future.

Getting you back to the activities you enjoy

Joint pain, a broken bone or other conditions that affect how your body moves can sideline you from the activities you enjoy. Our orthopedic specialists can treat your orthopedic needs.

Learn more