Hip Replacement Problems

As with all major surgeries, a hip replacement procedure is associated with several complications and risks, some of which may even be life threatening. The risk of complications is low, but some examples of potential problems include:

  • Dislocation of the joint
  • Loosening of the joint
  • Wear and tear
  • Joint stiffening
  • Blood clot
  • Infection

Dislocation of the hip joint

The hip joint becomes displaced from its socket in around 3% of cases. After a hip replacement procedure, it can take up to twelve weeks for the soft tissues around the joint to heal after they have been cut during surgery. During this period, the joint is poorly supported and the femoral head can work its way free of the socket, leading to dislocation. The risk of hip dislocation is reduced when less tissue is cut, if cut tissue is repaired or if the femoral head prosthesis has a large diameter. When heads with a smaller diameter are used, lower dislocation rates are also seen with the anterior rather than posterior approach to surgery, but this has not yet been demonstrated for procedures that involve heads with a larger diameter. Patients can decrease their risk of dislocation by avoiding certain postures during the first several months following surgery. Alcohol use in the few months following surgery is associated with an increased risk of dislocation.

Loosening of the joint

This is the most common complication of hip replacement and occurs when the shaft of the prosthesis becomes loose in the socket of the thigh bone or the bone surrounding the implant starts to thin. This can lead to pain and a sensation that the joint is unstable. If the joint does loosen, it usually happens 15 to 20 years after the surgery took place, at which point a revision surgery may be required.

Wear and tear

Wear and tear of the artificial hip joint is another common complication of this procedure. Wearing of the prosthesis can cause the joint to become loose, requiring further surgery if the problem is severe. Metal-on-metal prostheses are thought to become subject to wear and tear sooner than expected and the annual checking of these implants is recommended.

Joint stiffening

The soft tissues that surround an implant can become stiff and lead to reduced mobility, although this does not usually cause pain. The problem can be prevented using radiotherpay or medication.

Sensitivity to the metal

Some people may be sensitive or allergic to the metal in the implants, causing local inflammation to develop or delayed healing, for example. The surgery may also fail altogether.

Severe symptoms

Some more rare but serious types of complications that may occur after a hip replacement procedure include:

The formation of blood clots

During the first few weeks after surgery, there is a small risk of thrombosis developing. The two main places a blood clot may form include the leg (deep vein thrombosis), or the lung, in which case, the clot is referred to as a pulmonary embolism. In cases where either is suspected, immediate medical attention should be sought. The risk of blood clot formation can be reduced by using anticoagulant therapies such as warfarin.


Hip replacements patients are at a small risk of bacterial infection occurring at the artificial hip joint. Patients should urgently seek medical attention if they develop symptoms such as fever, chills, persistent hip pain or inflammation/discharge at the surgery site.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Linda Tipton Linda Tipton United States says:

    My mother had her first hip implant shortly after my father passed away. After which she developed a very small tremor, barely noticable, but is now to the point after 20 some yrs. of being very debilitating. She cannot Write or even feed herself . She has dealt with repreated and ongoing infections of the bacterial type for many years & cannot seem to fully get rid of them. She is currently in a nursing home & requires 24/7 care. She has had eight children & a hard life & we think she may have some kind of a metallosis reaction to her first hip implant as she has always been allergic to cheap jewelry. She is 80 yrs. old now & we just see her slippimg away more every day & doctors say she is too old to have any surgeries for anything. So what to do,when you think that removal of the old hip replacement could significantly improve her life? I am requesting a metal test for high levels of cobalt & chromium in the blood to see what that shows since I have just read this article on it here. THANKS! Wish us luck! Linda M. Tipton on behalf of mom Della M. Bevins  Defiance,Oh 43512 at TWIN RIVERS Nursing Home.

  2. kneeandjointsurgery hosp kneeandjointsurgery hosp India says:

    Knee replacement, or knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint to relieve the pain and disability of osteoarthritis. It may be performed for knee diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. In patients with severe deformity from advanced rheumatoid arthritis, trauma, or long standing osteoarthritis, the surgery may be more complicated and carry higher risk.

  3. Geoffrey Hughes Geoffrey Hughes Belgium says:

    I  have had BOTH hips replaced. One 12 months ago and the other six months ago . Twelve month hip is 85% ok. The other hip the knee has become stiff. Can not find information for people who have had BOTH hips replaced.. Thank you Geoff Hughes.

    • Karen Lupinetti Karen Lupinetti United States says:

      I've had both hips replaced; the right one in 2012, and the left one a year later. The surgeries were fine, I had a super easy recovery and was back to work in 6 weeks after each one. I honestly believe that my positive attitude about needing to have them done, as well as a fantastic surgeon were the keys to my success.

      Two days ago, the right hip dislocated,  which put me in excruciating pain until it accidentally went back into place by itself. I'm being careful the last two days, and am planning to see the ortho surgeon soon to see if anything may be wrong. The X rays showed no damage, but I'm just being proactive. The ER doc Friday said Zumba may be out for a while, but not to cancel my gym membership yet!

      I'm in my early 60s, and this isn't going to slow me down or stop me from teaching part-time.

      See what's going on...and hang in there!

  4. Cathy Simmons Thorn Cathy Simmons Thorn United States says:

    I am having a very strange symptoms.  Eleven months after having a hip replacement, I am having a faint redness (circular) on the incision with bruising that has followed the incision line starting at the bottom of the incision toward the foot and moving up the incision line to the top.  This is very puzzling.  Anyone else out there ever had this situation?

  5. Barbara Rodriguez Barbara Rodriguez United States says:

    Was curious... has anyone else feel like where the bone in your leg meets the metal from your new hip does it feel like its going to snap?does anyone else have extreme amounts of pain after your total hip replacement and lots of problems? I want to know if this is normal ?

    • AwesomeCapital AwesomeInvestor AwesomeCapital AwesomeInvestor United States says:

      Although I sometimes wonder how well patients feel pain because of all the painkillers. Medical professionals keep laughing at me for not taking the heavy duty ones, but I don't know how you can tell if you are in pain otherwise. Even if this pain is from your thigh muscle cramping (could be, especially if it comes and goes), I would check it out with a doctor or PT.

    • Ellen Wise Ellen Wise United Kingdom says:

      Yes, had replacement 10 months ago and have had nothing but pain and trouble sitting for any length of time.  Horrible.  Nobody in NHS wants to know.

    • sandra welch sandra welch United States says:

      OMG yes! I am having that problem now. Just a little over a year from my 2nd surgery where i had a new socket put in and, my thigh is popping like a nuckle and wobbly and unstable but the doctor can not seem to find anything wrong on my xrays. It has kept me from going back to work and doing much of anything.

    • catherine boehm catherine boehm United States says:

      i had a right hip replacement on may 10th.  its Feb 27th.  I have been very unhappy with my hip replacement.  I too feel my leg bone were it meets the metal.  My rt leg is longer than the other causing a limp and takes my back out frequently.  And yes its been very painful especially during storms.  It feels and looks like my metal area is concaving in, really feeling the real bone of my leg.  Im struggling to find out what i can even do as far as every day activities.  The kicker is the left hip was worse than rt, but started with the rt because of a pinched nerve putting me on crutches.  I just cant be in pain with 2 legs and so non functional I'm afraid to walk.  Also I've had 4 other  surgeries and this leg replacement was barbaric compared.  They woke me up and i was screaming, so many in post-op it took the nurse 15 minutes to help.  They wheeled in another man screaming too.  They only offered 2 Tylenol.  1 night and i was soaked in urine.  the bed was like a bathtub of urine.  When id beg the nurse for help she knocked me out with lorazepam in my iv i didn't have the time to tell her i was soaked.  All night, finally got help when a hospitalist came in and gave me pain meds as my back was frozen from hip to neck.  i could not move.  They said why didn't you go to the bathroom?  Seriously???  I already mapped a way home.  i was going to hire an ambulance to get me home.  And im suppose to get another hip replacement??  But the head can break off in the bad hip which is painful too.  I wasn't one of the lucky ones either that just took off walking after the surgery without a problem.  I still wonder about people who say that.  It is major surgery.

  6. Veronica Ralston Veronica Ralston United States says:

    i had hip replacement last May 2015 after i went home after 2weeks, my hip popped out of joint. This kept happing  every 2-3 weeks my doctor said i have loose joints. I had never heard of this.  He finally went and put a collar on the hip.  It has not popped out of joint any more but it makes a lot of noise.  Have you ever heard of this or is he trying to cover up for something he done wrong.

  7. Robin Smith Robin Smith United States says:

    In July 2013 I had left hip replacement.  Over the last 2-3 weeks I am experiencing pain very similar to what I had before the hip was replaced.  The hip is especially painful at night again. I have no difficulty walking or standing from seated position.  "Sometimes" I feel like the hip is going to give out climbing stairs.  I had absolutely no complications after surgery.  My right hip was replaced last Sept. 2015 with no complications immediately after surgery or to this day  I have a one year check up appointment with my surgeon in a couple weeks.  I definitely plan on discussing the left hip pain with him at that appointment.  In the meantime, what could be causing the pain?

    • Ellen Wise Ellen Wise United Kingdom says:

      Yes, me too.  Hip operation about same time as you Robin.  No complications, BUT from day one, it never felt right.  I think the 'wrong' mattress in hospital does not help, but there are not enough of the right ones to go round.  Also, the folk who shout the loudest get them!  Cannot sit comfortably for longer than 15 minutes and travel in a car is excruciating.  I can walk, but when I rise I have to hold the front of the hip and groin to get up at all!  Not happy one bit.  Surgeon?  Nice man, shame about the attitude - "I don't make mistakes" - really?......

  8. Linda Jones Friedel Linda Jones Friedel United States says:

    I fell in 2012 and broke (shattered) my right hip. Went to the ER, had to lay there for 13 hours before a surgeon finally came.  He did the surgery, not a total hip replacement. That only lasted a couple of months before it became unattached.  I went back for a total hip replacement, and have had pain ever since, also I loose my balance a lot. I can walk for about a half hour, then the pain starts.
    I've always slept on my right side, but when I do this, I wake up in extreme pain.  I've gone to see other doctors, but they say it's just fine!!!  No one wants to clean up someone else's mess, it seems.
    The pain goes down to my foot.   I also have Osteoporosis.
    My scar is 13 inches long, and the muscle never grew back, like the doctor said it would.
    Is there any hope for me????   I want my life back.

  9. Norma Johnson Norma Johnson United Kingdom says:

    I had my left hip replaced 2 years ago and my right one this January. Since having the 2nd one done I am not confident walking about as I feel I am unbalanced but my consultant says I am fine as the hips are both the same. Today when I was out I suddenly felt the right hip clicking as I walked and although I have no pain I feel somethings wrong. It sounds like a ratchet being wound up when I walk.Has anyone had this happen and could it be a warning f the hip dislocating? Any info would be welcome as I cant find anything online about it.

  10. Bettye Short Bettye Short United States says:

    I am wondering how often this happens.

  11. Don Yvonne Ryder Don Yvonne Ryder Canada says:

    i had my left hip replaced for the third time three years ago which left my leg numb from the knee down .i was told it would get better but it isn,t . so i have to walk with a walker. I was wondering if anyone else has this problem

  12. Alecia Papineau Parker Alecia Papineau Parker United States says:

    I had both hips replaced in 2014. I'm still having problems standing and sitting. While sitting I feel like I'm sitting on golf ball's. Is anyone else having or had this problem?

    • Kathy Radford-Scarale Kathy Radford-Scarale United States says:

      Hi had left replaced and never been quite right. Feels like I am sitting on something and when I stand up I usually have to stand still and get juices flowing before I can take a step. Sometimes have to hold onto things and then after a few steps gets a little better. Doc still can't figure what is wrong and is now talking about revision surgery....

  13. Melanie K Kelley Melanie K Kelley United States says:

    I had a total hip replacement and have had a lot of pain that started about a year ago and have not had any luck with getting the doctor to even look at it.  Get really sharp pain in pelvis when I sneeze cough or just move to fast.  Climbing stairs or hills also causes a lot of pain, and have numbness in lower leg.  Does anyone else have those problems.

    • Preston Ricks Preston Ricks United States says:

      I'm still having pain after walking 20 min or so and the numbness in my thigh is still very present. I see I'm not the only one going through this and somehow I feel better sorry! But this has been worrying me for sometime now and not trying to be a baby about it or that's how the surgeon makes me feel. Sorry your going through this but in short you are not alone. A bone density scan is the next procedure they want to run now to narrow down why I'm having so much trouble

  14. Michael Kennedy Michael Kennedy United States says:

    I had a total hip replacement on my right side in May of 2014.  Starting in August of 2014 I have had pain or spasms in my right thigh. I have talked to my hip Surgeon and no luck there and have even been to a spin surgeon to see if this could be related to the bad disks in my spin. He ran tests and nothing showed.  This pain does not show up all of the time, but when it does it stops me dead in my tracks.  Anyone else experiencing this type of thigh pain?

  15. Keith Herbert Keith Herbert United Kingdom says:

    I have a titanium hip replacement done in may 2017 I am getting irritation in my stomach area and throat. My emissions are affected. I experience a different a smell. I get what I call the titanium aroma emitting from my body. Does any one know what is the best treatment. please.

  16. Cate Muegge Cate Muegge United States says:

    My 92 year old mother had hip surgery and after 3 days in hospital she went to a rehab center where they continued to get her out of bed and sit her up, and try and make her stand up.  Is that right to do?  Also they did not cover the procedure where they stapled her back together.  Within a week she was back in the hospital with a severe infection and another surgery.  Her incision was not covered the whole time she was in the rehab.  Shouldnt it have been covered with bandages and medication to prevent infection?  What did they do to you when they closed the incision and sent you packing out of the hospital?

  17. Robert Gann Robert Gann United States says:

    I had my right hip replaced last may 2017, I have been walking since the day of the replacement. I went through what the doctor called three weeks of hell. You all remember that. They went through the front of my leg. I healed up pretty good no oozing or anything. The hip has never quit hurting. My surgeon quit two weeks after my surgery so I had to do my check ups with another doctor in the same office. I tried to tell him that I couldn't sleep and that the hip was still killing me. I had just quit taking the prescribed pain pills. I just wanted to let him know what was going on and what can I do to try to sleep at night. I lived in a rural area that was a hundred mile round trip. My surgeon told me that due to where I lived it would be difficult to do physical therapy so my wife became my therapist. We had everything we needed from the therapist for exercising and complied religiously. Anyhow went to see this other doctor and he went off on us and told us that he didn't want to hear anything from us and that's why my doctor wasn't here anymore. Then got into my wifes face and told her that he wasn't going to loose his license due to pain pills which we were not even asking for. That was last June we have since moved to the Oregon coast. I walked on the beach a lot until my hip seemed to get worse clicking in the hip my groin pain getting worse and my femur hurts like walking on a broken leg all of which never went away. I have a new primary care doctor here and I have to go every three months to have my A1C checked because I'm also a diabetic type 2. Needless to say I haven't worked since March 14th 2017 due to this hip. I have been telling my new doctor what is going on. She decided to do a white blood cell count in my new labs. The labs came back and I have an elevated white blood cell count. She say's due to my pain in my new hip and elevated white blood cells that I have now got an infection in my new hip. I'm wondering if this has been there since the replacement. Now I don't walk on the beach it hurts too much now. Cant sit for long and cant walk or stand for too long my groin is still killing me and to add to all of this I have bad head aches sick to my stomach and the chills. Now I have to go to corvalis Oregon now to get fluid pulled out of this new hip (more pain) meanwhile I'm not on anything for pain not even asprin just toughing it out. Waiting to see these people and will keep you folks updated.

  18. Paula West Paula West United States says:

    I have an abscessed tooth that is still hurting despite an extended antibiotic treatment with amoxicillan...about 2 weeks. I am waiting for the insurance company to let me know if a tooth implant will have any insurance coverage and if the extraction would at least be covered. I went onto amoxicillin as soon as the tooth started to hurt. It took a few days before my dentist could see me.  It's not getting a lot better.  I still have tooth pain in the tooth.  My dentists thinks the tooth might be cracked. Now I have developed a stabbing pain in the area of my left front leg where the groin and the leg/hip come together.  This is an artificial joint.  I had it done 4 years ago and have never had any issues with it. It is a stabbing pain right where the pulse in that area is located.  It comes and goes without any rhyme or reason.  I am afraid the infection may have spread to my artificial hip joint.  But the pain is definitely in the groin area.  Any ideas?

  19. anita slater anita slater United States says:

    Had Total left hip replacement 5 months ago. Dislocated it 2 times within first 2 weeks, Have had severe pain in lower neck,,& shoulder on opposite side. But pain radiates down to lower back into middle of buttocks into groin area down middle of thigh then toward outer side of left hip where surgery was done. I’m Limping now & pain is awful sitting, standing,or walking. Hip has been x-rayed showing healing is fine but this pain persists. I also fell once during this time. I’ve had sciatica problems in the past & had nerve endings (burned) which helped for a year or so then procedure was repeated 2 more times over several years. I have degenerative disk disease with both knees replaced. Do I need a cat scan done or go back to pain management dr. to see what he thinks is wrong? I’ve hurt for months now with no relief. I’ve tried heat, cold, all kinds of ointments & pain just persists. Please help as Hospiceishelping mew/my terminal ill husband who has cancer. I’ve just got to find out what’s wrong & FIX IT! Help me........

  20. jennifer botha jennifer botha Australia says:

    I have had my bi hip replacement now for 11 years. Last year I was still working hard on the farm up and down banks with ease. This year it is all together different The pain is in the lower part of the leg implants, it is making my balance bad as I am not sure if my leg will stand me if I am off balance. I am not sure what to do, I was expecting to get at least 20 years from the op I am now 70 and still have heaps of work to do.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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