Hip replacement surgery is very effective at reducing or eliminating hip joint pain and improving hip joint function. However, in a small number of cases, a limp can persist following hip replacement surgery. This can occur for a variety of reasons.
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In the weeks and months following total hip replacement surgery, the muscles surrounding the hip joint tend to be weak and atrophied, which can cause weakness of the leg as well as a limp.
Leg Length Difference
It is not uncommon for hip replacement surgery to result in a leg length discrepancy between the operated and non-operated leg. A leg length difference can cause a limp if the discrepancy is severe enough.
Total recovery following hip replacement surgery generally takes several months, in some cases as many as six to eight months post-surgery. During this recovery phase, residual pain caused by the surgical procedure itself can cause a mild limp.
In rare cases, a malpositioned hip prosthesis implant can cause a limp after hip replacement surgery. This can happen if the surgeon fails to adequately seat or angle the implant in the leg (femur) bone.
During hip replacement surgery, the nerves in the leg, including the sciatic nerve, can sometimes be stretched or damaged. If the irritation or damage is severe enough, leg muscle control of the affected leg will be compromised, which can cause a limp.
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