Dealing With Thigh Pain After Hip Replacement

While the surgery may be an inevitable part of feeling better, thigh pain after hip replacement can make recovery brutal.

Even after your initial recovery period and after physical therapy, lingering leg pain can leave you wondering if that expensive surgery was even worth it.

We’ll explain what causes thigh pain after hip replacement, and tell you how long you can expect this to last.

At the end of this article, we’ll teach you how to relieve the pain after surgery, and increase your recovery rate so you can get back to living your life!

What Causes Thigh Pain After Hip Replacement?

There are two different categories of post-surgery pain we want to discuss. One is completely normal, while the other may indicate some sort of issue.

It should come as no surprise that you experience some pain in the replaced hip and surgery area after you go under the knife. The process of undergoing hip replacement is very taxing on the boney formations in that area, along with all the muscles, ligaments, and even your skin where incisions were made. Let’s cover some of the specific potential causes of pain after surgery.

Infection In The New Hip

One of the potential causes of thigh pain immediately after hip replacement is an infection in the new hip.

Even with the antibiotics you take, it’s possible to end up with an infection if you aren’t very careful with the recovery process. Keeping your wound clean is the best way to prevent this issue from arising in the first place.

Most often, you can remedy this problem by making an appointment with your doctor and getting on some antibiotics. Other times, an infection in your artificial hip will require surgery to remove the hip. So needless to say, this is something you want to try and prevent at all costs!

But, sometimes, you may still experience thigh pain years after your hip replacement.

A Loose Implant In The Hip Joint

The next most likely cause of thigh pain after hip replacement is a loose implant from the surgery.

This was a more common issue in the past, when the medical field wasn’t quite as advanced as it is now. These days, surgeons, implants, and the tools they use to install them have come a long way.

But, it is not unheard of. Unlike an infection in your new hip, a loose implant is more likely as time goes on and you put some wear and tear on your new hip.

As the hip loosens, it rubs on the bone and ligaments surrounding it. This is what causes the pain in your thigh.

You can visit your doctor and tell them about your condition, and they can help identify if the implant is loose. It’s a pretty easy fix if this is what’s plaguing you.

This can be very frustrating, and leaves you asking, how long will this thigh pain last?

Hip Flexor Tendonitis

Hip flexor tendonitis is a condition where the tendons surrounding your hip flexor become aggravated and inflamed. It can occur in those who didn’t have a hip surgery, but your chances of developing it increase greatly with hip replacement.

This particular issue causes pain not just in your thigh, but the hip itself, your adductors (groin region), and IT band – essentially the entire front and sides of your upper leg.

You can differentiate between this and another issue if you feel the most pain when you lift your afflicted leg, such as getting out of bed or a vehicle.

Fortunately, a good physical therapist will help you straighten this out and get you back to living pain-free through a combination of stretching, deep-tissue work, exercise, and other modalities.

How Long Will Thigh Pain Last After Hip Replacement?

As we briefly touched on earlier, thigh and hip pain immediately after surgery is to be expected, of course. But how long should it persist, and when is it time to worry?

The initial pain from surgery will likely last between 2-4 weeks, depending on your age and how serious you take your recovery. Other factors include how active you were prior to and after surgery, your medical history, etc.

But, some people can experience pain in their thigh for up to 6-8 weeks after surgery. This is not necessarily cause of concern, but if you ever feel concerned for your health and safety, a doctor’s visit is warranted. This can help you rule out infection.

Your pain should lessen every single week, and if it ever starts getting worse, it’s worth asking a doctor. 

But, while you endure a few weeks of misery, here are some tips to help make yourself more comfortable and speed up your recovery. 

How Do You Relieve Thigh Pain After Hip Replacement?

Obviously, follow all the advice your surgeon or doctor gives you when it comes to pain management. We want to stress how careful you should be with pain medication, even with a prescription.

These are incredibly easy to become addicted to, so don’t get in the habit of using these as a crutch. After the initial period of agony, try and only use them on a worst-case basis – for your worst days, or to help you become comfortable enough to sleep at night.

Aside from taking your anti-inflammatories and pain medicine, here are some tips to find comfort and decrease pain in your thigh after hip surgery.

Motion is lotion

Once you are cleared by your doctor, start getting some movement in that new joint. It’s going to be incredibly stiff at first, but as you start putting it to use, you’ll noticeably feel it loosen up!

Ice & Heat With Your Legs Elevated

Recovery is key – Make sure you are icing and heating as directed by your doctor. We also recommend keeping your legs elevated with a pillow to increase blood flow and decrease swelling and pain in the joint.

Photo of author

Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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1 thought on “Dealing With Thigh Pain After Hip Replacement”

  1. I had a hip replacement 7 weeks ago. I have had several other joint replacements and this was by far the easiest. I do have a bit of thigh pain and I understand this is normal. What is puzzling to me is that the skin sometimes feel warm to hot. I was an infection control nurse before I retired. I do not think there is an infection. I have had no fever, ERS and CRP and WBC are all normal. I had a similar experience with my shoulder replacement as well. What causes this?

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