Recovering from Hip Replacement Surgery
When hip pain is so severe that it interferes with your daily life, you may find yourself in the position of needing a hip replacement. Hip replacements are a common procedure with more than 300,000 total hip replacement surgeries performed every year in the United States. The safety of a hip replacement operation has dramatically improved since the 1960s when they were first performed. If you ever find yourself in the position of needing a hip replacement, there are things that you can do to help the recovery go a bit smoother. It is not a quick recovery, but taking care of yourself will make the long-term results more successful.
When joint pain (and in this case, hip pain) is so severe that it interferes with daily activities, work and sleep, hip replacement may be necessary. The decision to replace your hip is made by you and your orthopedic surgeon mainly based on the degree of your pain and how it is affecting your daily life.
If your hip pain and stiffness worsens during certain times of the day, or when performing activities such as walking, climbing stairs, sitting down, standing up, putting on shoes, walking on uneven surfaces, during sex, or getting in and out of a car, you may want to consult your doctor. If you have arthritis, you may also feel pain even while resting, sitting in a chair, or lying down. If you are stiff to the point where you cannot take care of yourself, you should talk to your doctor. He or she will refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon who will evaluate your condition and help you decide if joint replacement is right for you.
Hip replacement surgery removes damaged or diseased parts of a hip joint and replaces them with new, man-made parts. The goals of hip replacement surgery are to relieve pain, help the hip joint work better, and improve walking and other movements.
What to expect after surgery:
- Most people spend one to four days in the hospital after hip replacement surgery.
- Most people can walk the same day or day after surgery.
- You should be able to walk with a walker or crutches without needing much help by the time you leave the hospital.
- Most people do not need a walker or crutches after 2 to 4 weeks.
- After 3 to 6 weeks, you should be able to resume normal activities.
- Keep walking and moving once you get home.
- Don’t put weight on the new hip until your doctor approves.
- Start out with short periods of activity and gradually increase them.
- Follow the exercise routine provided by your doctor or physical therapist.
- It usually takes about three to six months to be completely healed.
- Avoid contact sports and downhill skiing, but low impact activities such as swimming, golfing, and tennis should be okay.
- Wearing away of the joint surface may become a problem after 15-20 years, and may require another hip replacement.
- You should schedule follow up appointments every year to check the position of the implants.
Common problems that you should be aware of include:
- Hip dislocation
- Blood clots and infections
How you can help improve your recovery:
- Get into a healthy exercise routine if you don’t already have one.
- Pay attention to diet and weight. Now is not the time to eat whatever you want and put on extra weight as that can cause extra stress on your joints.
- Exercise to promote blood flow and prevent clots. These include regularly squeezing the thigh and calf, walking with or without assistance of a cane or walker, or raising and lower the leg and other full-range motion exercises.
Depending on your current living arrangements it may be necessary to make modifications to your house to make it more accessible for you after surgery. For example, adding a seat in your shower, adding a hand-held shower wand to your tub or shower, and adding a bar grip to your shower or next to your toilet to make getting in and out of the tub or on and off the toilet a little easier, will help make your a bit more independent in the coming days and weeks. Or, if your bedroom is not on the first floor of your home, may need to put a bed on the main level so you do not have to climb stairs.
You also may want to make plans with friends and family, or other caretakers to ensure that someone is available to help you with meals, bathing, and running errands. Having meals prepared ahead of time so that it’s easy to heat them up, will make your life a little more easy when others are not able to help at any given time.
We can help you be prepared for any upcoming surgery. Come see us and our full line of Nova Medical Products that can help you get you and your home ready for your post-surgery needs.