Total Hip Replacement Surgery with Spinal Anaesthesia / Epidural - My Experience

C1955J Member Posts: 20
edited 17. May 2022, 09:08 in Living with arthritis

Hi All

I'm delighted to say that I have finally had my surgery after being on the waiting list for a year and ten months for a total right hip replacement, which had been bone on bone for the past fourteen months.

Initially I was extremely anxious about having Spinal Anaesthesia but had no need to have worried. It was a really positive experience which I am happy to share with you.

I was of course given the option of a Spinal or General Anaesthetic. After having it explained to me that with the Spinal Anaesthetic I would feel less drowsy afterwards, there would be less chance of me feeling nauseous, a reduced risk of requiring a blood transfusion and I would be able to eat and drink fairly soon afterwards, I opted for that, with the knowledge that the option to change to a General Anaesthetic if required still remained.

As I was so anxious I chose to be sedated to make me more relaxed.

I was given a pre-med and then sat on the side of the bed in the anaesthetists room where the anaesthetist administered a measured dose of local anaesthetic by injection to my spine. I then was turned onto my side, lying on the hip that was to be operated on for the anaesthetic to drain downwards.

Within a few minutes I was numb from my waist downwards. This was checked by spraying a cold spray onto my leg which I couldn't feel at all.

The next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room and was then transferred to my own bed. I had absolutely no side effects and was sitting out of bed by lunchtime enjoying a light lunch and chatting with the nurses. That same afternoon I was encouraged to use a walking frame to visit the bathroom. I was given a strong pain killer before going to bed to allow me a restful night. I was never in any significant pain at any time.

The following day I had three sessions with the physiotherapist. By late afternoon I was able to walk with two sticks, climb 12 stairs and was given several exercises to aid my mobility and recovery.

That afternoon I was taken for an X-ray, to check that everything was fine with my new hip. Following that I was seen by the Consultant and discharged home.

I was given paracetamol and codeine to take for pain relief if required. I'm pleased to say I didn't need to take the codeine at all and am just taking six paracetamol a day at the moment.

I can't believe I was only in hospital for one night and discharged the next.

It was such a positive experience and I'm now on my way to getting my life back on track.



  • alexander1
    alexander1 Member Posts: 70

    It’s great you have had such a positive experience. I had both of mine done and was please with the results. I have to say though how on earth did you manage with codeine and stronger pain meds. The actual wound and after pain from operation was super intense and I dosed myself up for the first week at least really heavily.

    well done.

  • YvonneH
    YvonneH Member Posts: 1,111

    That's great to hear @C1955J

    Are you planning to continue to post to give us some first hand experience for those waiting for their operations, what went well, what you tweaked and any challenges you faced? It woud be good if you can

    Take care


  • C1955J
    C1955J Member Posts: 20

    Hi Yvonne

    Yes, I'm happy to continue to post. I only had my surgery 10 days ago. I live in a cul-de-sac and have managed to walk to the end of the road every day with two sticks.

    The swelling is going down quite well and I had the best night's sleep last night since being discharged home.

    My hips are now perfectly aligned which I'm really happy about. Before my surgery.... because I had to wait such a long time (1 year 10 months) my hips had become misaligned where one was much lower than the other. The misalignment may have been to do with the fact that I had been walking with a severe gait.

    alexander 1....

    Regarding the pain relief I prefer not to take codeine as it gives me some side effects. For the last couple of years whilst waiting for my hip replacement I have been taking Co-codamol but only a low dosage.

    Post op, so far I have found the paracetamol to be enough....although today I did nearly reach for the codeine.....but resisted!

    Did you have both of your hips done at the same time?

  • alexander1
    alexander1 Member Posts: 70

    No I had my first in Jan 20 and second in May 21. Felt like what I imagined being shot would feel like 😩 so might have had the slight problem of building a resistance to impact of opioids. I have been on 8 tramadol a day for the past 4 years due to spinal and joint pains.

  • Hi, I also had a hip replacement 3 weeks ago today under spinal with sedation, very good anaesthetic. Long wait for surgery, 2 years 2 months.

    I am taking paracetamol in the morning and two Co codamols at night now. If I could roll onto my side I would probably not need them to be honest, just can't get comfortable on my back.

    Walking further now, still using crutches outdoors but one or no sticks indoors. So glad that the horrible arthritic pain has gone, still have swelling on my thigh and muscle aches but I expected that.

    Looking forwards to being more active and trying to shift some weight that has crept back up as I've been less mobile pre surgery.

    Best wishes for your continued recovery

  • C1955J
    C1955J Member Posts: 20

    Hi Alexander1....I think I will also need to have my other hip replaced within a year or the hip I considered to be my good hip has been under a lot of strain over the past couple of years, compensating for my bad one.

    8 tramadol a, that's some pain relief!

    Hi Chunkygardener.....Oh, you did have a long wait. I think you had your surgery around the same time as me. Mine was on 11th April. Exactly two weeks later on 25th April I was able to have the dressing removed as the wound had healed...and was also allowed to shower!

    I had a telephone appointment with the physiotherapist a couple of days later, as I wanted to know when I can sleep on my I too am fed up of having to sleep on my back! He said that I can sleep on my good side now...but it's better for your hips to put a pillow between your knees / legs.

    I also asked when I could expect to not have to walk with two sticks. He said probably in another 10 - 15 days which is roughly four to four and a half weeks after surgery.....but everyone is different of course. It's just a guideline.

    I'm continuing to go for a walk every day with two sticks and walk further each time. I can walk fairly fast and with confidence now as the pain is easing off. I manage with just one stick around the house. It's great that you can walk around the house without any sticks at all. I'm looking forward to that greatly.

    The swelling on my thigh has almost gone now but it still aches....but less and less each day.

    I only take 6 paracetamols per day now too.

    I'm supposed to be going to Robin Hoods Bay early in June (8 weeks after surgery). I'm hoping I will be able to manage the steep hill there!

    I hope you continue to recover well. It's good to hear other people's experiences.

  • Bella59
    Bella59 Member Posts: 33

    Pleased to hear you are doing so well.As you say we are all different and will recover at different rates.I think it also depends on what other health problems we may have.I myself had one hip replaced seven months ago and it is doing well no pain there anymore.My other hip was done four weeks today this one feels to be taking longer still sore in groin area.Maybe I am expecting too much my knees were both replaced ten years ago and they swell up a lot,this in turn holds back my recovery.I myself have had spinal with four operations and they all went well.I myself have OA RA and Polymyalgia Rheumatica,still trying to find meds that will control inflammation,also on steroids.Best Wishes to everyone waiting on replacements,hope you hear soon.

  • C1955J
    C1955J Member Posts: 20

    Hi Bella59 Oh, you do seem to have had much more to contend with than me. Following your latest hip replacement how are you walking now? Do you still use two sticks? I think I had my hip done about the same time as you, mine was four weeks ago today. I'm still going for a walk every day. I set out with two sticks and walk back with just one. The knee on the side of my operated hip has a little pain as does my ankle....but I think it's just adjusting following the surgery. My knee prior to surgery was very swollen but the swelling has now gone totally. I think, like you, I am probably expecting too much too soon. I wish you well in your recovery.

    For all of you still awaiting your hip replacements, hang on in there....once it's done you'll feel like a new person.

  • Bella59
    Bella59 Member Posts: 33

    Thanks hopefully this hip will improve soon.Back to using two crutches for now safer for me.Every operation is different,just praying it is just a slower recovery and not anything else.Glad to hear you are doing well.

  • Leslie
    Leslie Member Posts: 5

    Hi all,

    I had total hip replacement on the 14th February this year, my wait was just over 18months and like others had reached the bone on bone stage. I was only offered Spinal with sedation but all went really well and was back on the ward within 5 hours, I did have sickness for a couple of hours though.

    Recovery since then has been up and down, the first two weeks at home I was taking among other things morphine through the day and once in the night, my mobility had improved now, I can walk slowly without a stick and try to do at least a half hour walk each day, tiredness still a problem though and I still cannot bend down to tie shoes, dry my feet etc.

    I will need the other hip done as advised by my surgeon and hope to start the ball rolling on that in about 4 months, all dependent of course on the waiting lists.

    It has made a difference to the pain, I don't have arthritic pain any more in the operated hip which is a joy at least to have one on the mend.

  • Mildred
    Mildred Member Posts: 2

    So glad your op went well. I need 4 joints replacing and have been waiting 2.5 years. I get my right hip replaced on 27th May and then go to the bottom of waiting list for each of the others after a six month recovery period for each. I am really worried that I won't see that much improvement after first one although it should mean I have one relatively good leg.I hope I will be able to cut my toe nails once it's done as now as I bend forward my foot turns away from me to the right and I can't reach.I am in my 70's and it doesn't seem fair that I will just deteriorate over the next 7+ years because of having to wait again for each op. I currently walk with two sticks and have gone from climbing mountains and playing table tennis to hardly making it to local shop. I am trying to stay positive and just pray that I feel a little better after recovery period.

  • Ellen
    Ellen Moderator Posts: 1,208

    Welcome to the online Community @Mildred

    I see from your post that you need a total of 4 joints replaced and have been waiting already for 2 and a half years. You say that after each operation you have to wait 6 months before going back on the waiting list for the next operation. I can see that does seem tough and will without a doubt increase your wait to 7 plus years.

    While you are waiting though I don't know if it would help to look at a few things which might help a little?

    The 27th may is very soon I hope you will be checking in and letting us know how you do with your recovery. As you can see it really helps those facing surgery to read other people's experiences.

    Best wishes


  • Whiskey26
    Whiskey26 Member Posts: 69

    Hi @C1955J . Thank you so much for writing about your experience having a hip replacement. I have severe OA in both hips ( worse on right side) and know at some point, I will face the dreaded op. Currently, I survive by walking with a stick, as well as using a TENS machine and taking amitriptyline daily and co-codamol and fenbid gel when needed. Your description of the procedure has made me feel a bit better, because I'm not going to lie, even at almost 58 years old, I am terrified. Despite having epidurals with two pregnancies, I am really worried about it. Can I just say you had a pre med, then the injection into your spine. What exactly is the pre med? And did you feel the needle when it was put into your spine? And perhaps this sounds silly, but what happens if you need the toilet immediately before and immediately after the op?

  • I'm very encouraged by all the positive stories about surgery. Did anyone have problems getting doctors to agree to surgery in the first place? Consultant told me I wasn't bad enough, despite my hip problems affecting my arthritic knees and my back. I'm now unable to walk far, have trouble standing, and too much activity triggers severe pain in the whole of my left leg. I do pilates and stretching exercises every day, and I've lost weight. I'm at my wits end, unable to properly look after my teenage son or my elderly mother. Any advice most welcome thanks

  • Anna
    Anna Moderator Posts: 699

    Hello @Sheila1959 and welcome to the online community,

    It’s good to hear that you are encouraged by the positive stories about surgery from our members. I understand that you have arthritis in your knees and back and are finding it difficult to walk far or to stand for long periods because of the pain. Your consultant is reluctant to offer surgery and you’d like some advice about how to deal with this.

    It can sometimes be difficult talking to consultants and trying to explain the severity of your symptoms to them. Members may have other suggestions, and some have suggested tips such as keeping a diary of your days to show your consultant, writing notes beforehand to describe your pain, or even taking someone in with you to give you support. Even if surgery is not an option at the moment, your consultant or GP should at least review your medication, and, if it’s available in your are, refer you to a pain clinic.

    You might find it helpful to have a look at the Versus Arthritis website page on knee replacement surgery and alternatives. It might explain why your consultant doesn’t want to recommend surgery at the moment, and it also suggests alternative ways to address the pain:

    You mentioned that you do Pilates and stretches every day, and I’m sure they help to keep you flexible and mobile. I’ve linked to a page on knee exercises that focus on keeping your knee flexible and as pain free as possible:

    Do have a look round the forum, and join in whenever you feel comfortable. The Living with Arthritis forum is a good place to browse to see how others are coping with their condition.

    Anna ( Mod)

  • Hi, just wanted to say to Whiskey26, please don't overthink the spinal anaesthetic, it is nowhere near what you imagine!

    I didn't have a premed, walked to the anaesthetic room via the loo and sat on the bed. I had a cannula put in my hand, rubbish veins but in first time.

    I felt a slight sting when the anaesthetist put some local in my back, then her fingers touching me. Then she announced it was all done and I didn't believe her!

    Laid down on my side and she gave me sedation which pretty much knocked me out.

    I peed myself when back on the ward before my sensation came back, no big deal. I got up on a commode a few hours later and made it to the loo no problem after that.

    My epidural during a c section was much worse!

  • Whiskey26
    Whiskey26 Member Posts: 69

    Thanks @Chunkygardener for your comments. Very reassuring to read. I feel such a baby, being frightened of what people say is a routine procedure, but I'm the world's worst patient. My epidurals during labour, were both for normal deliveries and I can't say they bothered me that much at the time, because labour is painful, however we are rewarded at the end of it. Perhaps I should think along those lines, regarding an operation, knowing that one day, after a hip replacement, I'll be rewarded with less pain and the ability to walk without a stick!!

  • C1955J
    C1955J Member Posts: 20

    Hi @Bella59 Hopefully you are recovering well following your last post saying you had gone back to using two crutches.

    My knee to the inside of my leg on my operated side is still really painful. I looked online and it seems quite common to have short term knee pain following hip surgery. It does say that in most cases that it can be resolved with physio. I'm seeing the physiotherapist next week so will seek advice.

    I am walking now with just one stick. I try to walk about a mile a day.

    Hi @Whiskey26 I'm so pleased that the description of my experience regarding hip replacement surgery made you feel a little better about having surgery yourself. Like you, I was anxious about the surgery....but there was absolutely no need. Just imagine what it will be like to be pain free and mobile again.

    The ‘Pre-med’ was just a tablet given to me prior to my surgery. This most frequently includes a pain-killer, or a drug to reduce sickness. Sometimes it also includes a drug to reduce anxiety. If you are really anxious and would like something to relax you before your operation it's a good idea to mention this to your anaesthetist at your pre-operative visit. The 'Pre-med' just calmed me down. I was still fully awake and talking to the anaesthetist whilst she administered the spinal anaesthesia. All I felt was a slight scratch when she gave me the spinal injection......absolutely nothing to worry about. I had no sickness whatsoever at any point throughout.

    Regarding the toilet....I just made sure that I visited the toilet immediately before my surgery. I was fully able to walk there myself. When I came around after my surgery (I'd had a sedative), the numbness to my lower body was wearing off and I was encouraged to visit the toilet and was able to walk to the bathroom using a walking frame. A nurse walked with me and waited outside the bathroom to ensure I was ok. At the hospital I went to they had what I can only describe as something like an ultrasound scanner that they run across your abdomen to detect how full your bladder is......(if you're not sure whether or not you need the loo) sometimes you may still be a little numb. I hope this helps.

    Hi @Sheila1959 I'm so pleased you are encouraged by the positive stories relating to hip surgery. When I first went to my GP I was fairly convinced already that I needed a hip replacement as I had been through it twice with my mother and knew the tell tale signs. Even though my X-Ray at that time showed my hip to have moderate to severe osteoarthritis I was also told it wasn't bad enough and that apparently I wasn't old enough! Six weeks later I was unable to walk without a stick. I was sent for 12 weeks of physiotherapy and prescribed co-codamol. Eventually because I couldn't stand the pain any longer and it was beginning to affect my mental wellbeing, I had to ask to be referred to an Orthopaedic Consultant who upon seeing me said immediately that I needed a total hip replacement. I can identify with how you must be feeling. I had to wait a year and 10 months for my surgery due to the Covid pandemic during which time I was also looking after my elderly mother who had issues of her own. I'm sure the pilates and stretching exercises you do each day will be a great help. I did daily exercises given to me by the physiotherapist for the whole of the time I was waiting (some 120 exercises). Doing the exercises also helps for after your surgery as it strengthens your joints and aids your recovery.

    Have you had a recent X-Ray of your hip?......because my osteoarthritis went from being moderate to severe in just a few months. Following that maybe you could request a referral from your GP?

    I have heard that Cortisone injections can be very successful for pain relief too. Maybe you could enquire about that?

    Some people also use a TENS machine to help with the pain.

    Just a few ideas to consider. I hope I have been of some help.

    Above all try to stay positive. I personally have found this Versus Arthritis community to be very supportive.

  • Whiskey26
    Whiskey26 Member Posts: 69

    Hi again @C1955J thanks once again for your help and advice, which is so reassuring. One remaining question I have, is...once you had the spinal anaesthetic, did you feel anything at all? Things like tugging or pulling or did you hear anything, or were you so 'out of it' you heard and felt nothing? And how long after the op were you fully awake and aware?

  • Bella59
    Bella59 Member Posts: 33

    HiH@C1955J I went for my six week check yesterday with surgeon.I still have left side groin pain,so have stopped exercising resting it so not to aggravate further.Surgeon was not duly worried about this and said early days yet.I think because my other hip was great at six weeks my expectations were too high.Hopefully will improve and have appt to see surgeon in eight weeks.Sometimes Psoas muscle can get hurt and needs time to recover.I hope things are still going well for you.

  • Bella59
    Bella59 Member Posts: 33

    Hi Whiskey26 I myself have had four spinal ops.Had two knees replaced ten years ago had light sedation was awake most of the time.I could hear all the noises with equipment,not for everyone.Last September had r hip replacement had spinal with cannula in hand was given steroid Injection as I had to come off prednisolone before operation,was sedated..Next thing I knew being wheeled along to recovery room operation over took just over hour.In recovery for about forty mins blood pressure and oxygen level checks.I had oxygen mask on for a little while then returned to room.About hour later had sandwich,yogurt and cup of tea.It takes several hours before feeling returns to your legs.You will be checked every couple hours blood pressure,oxygen levels.Pain relief is available to help you cope after operation.I had second hip replaced six weeks ago same drill.Every person is different in how they cope every operation recovery can vary,also depends on what other health conditions a person is fighting.Physio shows you what exercises to do to aid recovery and strengthen muscles.Follow exercise regime when you get back home.Good Luck hope this helps you feel a little better about your operation.It is natural to feel apprehensive about something new happening to you

  • C1955J
    C1955J Member Posts: 20

    Hi @Bella59 Good news that your surgeon wasn't duly worried about your left side groin pain. You must feel reassured. None of us know quite what to expect and all recoveries can differ depending on our general health conditions. I hope you will keep updating as to how you progress.

    I'm improving every day. I have no hip pain at all. It's just my knee on my operated side that is giving me problems now when walking any distance..... but I am seeing the physio and my surgeon for my six week check next week so am going to ask about it.

    One further question.....if you drive, are you back driving again....because I was told I would probably be able to return to driving six weeks after my surgery?

    Hi @Whiskey26 No I didn't feel anything at all almost immediately after the spinal anaesthetic but I had chosen to be sedated as it was my preference not to be fully awake. I heard and felt nothing until it was all done and I was in the recovery room. As far as I can remember I had the spinal anaesthetic around 10.30am and was fully awake and aware and eating a light lunch about 12.30 - 1.00ish. I was checked upon regularly as to whether I needed any pain relief and had my blood pressure taken at regular intervals.

  • Hi, I went for my 6 week post hip check up this week. Only took 5 minutes, was told to do what I wanted movement wise but to listen to my body and not to overdo things. Was told that it takes up to a year to fully recover, and to use crutch or stick until walking smoothly.

    Since then I've been swimming (10 slow lengths and some walking and stretching)

    I've taken the raised seat off the toilet.

    Also been driving again, no problems. Still got a bit of a limp when tired or walking distances so using one crutch outside.

    Wound healing well. I've been wearing silicon scar tape for the last 3 weeks and it's definitely flattening out.

    Still feel more tired than usual, not returning to work for a few more weeks, but making progress.

  • C1955J
    C1955J Member Posts: 20

    Hi @Chunkygardener That's good to know. You seem to be making good progress.

    I'm having my 6 week post hip check up this coming week. I can't wait to be able to sit on low (comfortable) furniture, to be able to bend down to pick things off the floor (it's amazing how many things seem to fall on the floor - including the 'grabber' that we are supposed to use to pick things up!). Oh, and to be able to lie on my side in bed....what luxury!

    I drove my car for the first time today, a short trip just to see if I would be ok to drive the 15 miles to my appointment this coming week. I'm pleased to say I was absolutely fine.

    I'm still using one stick as I would walk with a limp without it at the moment. My hip feels's my knee that's the problem. Hoping it's just short term.

    I'm wondering when it will be ok to get the lawnmower out and cut my grass as it's in need of doing.....but I daren't do it until I get the go-ahead.

    Also, I've been offered a job, but I'm not sure that I will be able to accept it as it involves quite a bit of lifting and moving heavy items around. In reality I think it's probably too soon for that. I will ask at my post hip check.

    I'm probably trying to run before I can walk.....but am excited to be on the road to recovery.....even if it does take up to a year!

    I hope you'll keep posting, as it's always interesting to hear how others at the same post hip op stage are doing.

  • Whiskey26
    Whiskey26 Member Posts: 69

    Hi @Bella59 thank you so much for your reassuring words. I know at my age I shouldn't be such a wimp, but I guess it's fear of the unknown. Apart from a few rounds of stitches as a child, I've never been in hospital, apart from having two children and even though a hip replacement hasn't been mentioned yet, I know it will inevitably happen at some stage. I hate needles and hospitals and I know I shall want to be completely unaware of what's going on, when the time comes 😔