4 Causes of Incontinence after Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement surgery can change lives in a positive way, increasing quality of life. However, incontinence is an unwelcome side effect for many.

Hip replacement surgery is rapidly becoming more common and more advanced. Whilst they used to be a rare operation, they are now operated frequently.


Why do People need Hip Replacement Surgery?

Hip replacements are necessary when the hip joint is worn or damaged so your mobility is reduced. The are also vital when you experience severe pain even when resting.

Common reasons that people require hip replacement surgery include the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Disease that causes the bone in joints to die
  • Bone tumors that break down the hip joint

Hip replacement surgery is taken place either through general anaesthetic or an epidural anaesthesia.

4 Causes of Incontinence after Hip Replacement Surgery

  • Affected Muscles During Surgery. The muscles affected in surgery are actually connected to the pelvis. The levator ani muscle is vital in supporting the pelvic organs. After surgery, therefore, it is common for individuals to lose control over urination. 
  • Medication. One of the side effects of medication provided after hip replacement therapy can actually be temporary bladder problems and incontinence.
  • Confinement to bed (functional incontinence). Confinement to bed and difficulty with mobility can make it hard to get to the toilet in time. This problem can lead to functional incontinence, in which an individual has frequent accidents.
  • Nerve issues. Temporary nerve issues after surgery are possible. This problem can decrease your sensation and can make you unaware of when you need to urinate.
Do you have Functional Incontinence due to Hip Replacement Surgery? Read our Guide to Functional Incontinence.

Interesting Fact: In England and Wales there are 160,000 total hip and knee replacement procedures performed each year!

Risk Factors for Developing Incontinence after Hip Replacement Surgery

Studies have shown the following factors to increase the likelihood of developing incontinence post-surgery:

  • Malnutrition
  • Admission from a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • Use of a wheelchair or device for walking
  • Dependence on others for ambulation
  • Co morbidity with another health condition

What to Expect after Hip Replacement Surgery

On study on female incontinence and hip replacement surgery analysed 6516 women after hip replacement surgery. Twenty-one percent of participants became incontinent during hospitalization. If you do experience incontinence after hip replacement surgery, remember that it is temporary and usually resolves itself shortly after surgery. For some people however, hip replacements can worsen existing conditions or cause long term incontinence. You should remember that these cases are very rare.

Most people are able to climb stairs and are ready to leave hospital in 4–8 days. There is no set time on how quickly you should heal following a hip replacement. If you notice any setbacks, such as an increase in pain or a decrease in range of motion, it is crucial to contact the doctor immediately for a follow-up appointment.

Your physical therapist or Doctor should recommend you some exercises to practice after having the surgery. If your incontinence doesn't resolve as quickly as expected, ensure you go back to specialist for advice.

You need to find a urinary incontinence product that is suitable for you if you have incontinence post-surgery. Read our Product Guides section for guidance on this.

Recommended Urinary Incontinence Products

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If your incontinence persists long term, ensure you talk to a professional about this. If it is a long walk to the bathroom for you, consider getting a commode.

Struggling to manage incontinence after hip replacement surgery? Post a question on our forum for expert advice.

forum incontinence

Originally posted 2019-03-26 12:06:45.


  1. Mary Dawson Reply

    This may sound weird, but I had 6 weeks of radiation in 2012, resulting in fecal incontinence. I just had a hip replacement 12/28/’20 and the fecal incontinence has gone away !

  2. Laurie Serak Reply

    I had knee replacement surgery and have experienced incontiinence and / or bladder control issues. I have had bladder control issues in the past but not nearly as severe as it has been after surgery. I do have hypertension and am still on a low dose of opiod drugs. Will this improve? I am three weeks post-op.

  3. Jeanne Watkins Reply

    16 days since a total left hip replacement. After 36 hrs I lost total control of my bladder. The doctor suggested a urinary test and antibiotics (ciprofloxacin). After ten days it improved but didn’t go away. I’m seeing my PCP tomorrow because she told me that I never had a UTI. The urine was clear. I researched and found out that with a spinal anesthesia that had, it’s possible that a nerve can affect the bladder. I can’t find more info on this can you help me with this?

    1. Tracey Debenham Reply

      Hi Jeanne

      I too had a hip replacement on the 17th November and now find myself with bladder problems! I had a spinal block …… you don’t mention if you had the same?

      I am not able to make it to the toilet in time and frequently have accidents, I may have to get up 3-4 times a night to pee which is resulting in large amounts of washing !

      I am going to question this tomorrow with my surgeon if I have any other information I shall feed back to you please feel free to do likewise

  4. Leanne kirsopp Reply

    I not long had a hip replacement on the 8 of September I got to were bed nappys as I can’t hold my water I leak like a water fanten it’s only been like this since I had hip replacement will it go back to normal

  5. Gillian Hodgen Reply

    I had a right total hip replacement almost 4 months ago now & I am delighted with the improvement in my mobility. My only issue is I now have urinary incontinence which seems to be getting worse!

  6. Michele Vanderwoude Reply

    I had a hip replacement in May 2023. Immediately following surgery, I was constantly needing to urinate. Thankfully, I was able to make it to the toilet/commode before losing control, however it turned out I had a UTI. This happened between the time I was admitted for surgery, and after I was in my room, post-op. It did not go away for at least 6 weeks. I was not tested until 6 weeks later when it was discovered. None of hte doctor’s or nurses seemed to consider there was a problem, despite my constant need to urinate while in the hospital, and my flagging it for the medical team. After I had the diagnosis, i was put on antibiotics and it did get better, though was never perfect.

    Last night, I awoke in the middle of the night (as I always do now) to urinate. The urge was so bad, and before I left my bed I started to urinate just a little. It was running down my leg before I even made it to the toilet. I do not know why this is happening, but it is definitely a concern, especially since I have to have a 2nd hip replacement in the coming months. Do you have any suggestions? Any ideas as to why this is happening?

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