If your hip pain hasn’t improved with conservative treatments, such as medication, physical therapy, and exercise, you may benefit from hip replacement surgery. With more than 95% of patients reporting relief after surgery, the procedure is highly successful in treating pain and improving mobility.
If you decide to have hip replacement surgery, you can improve your chances of an optimal outcome if you prepare for life after your surgery. Knowing what to expect can help you through a recovery process that can last up to 12 months.
Board-certified orthopedic surgeon James M. Lee, Jr., MD, of Orange Orthopaedic Associates in West Orange, New Jersey, has extensive experience performing hip replacement surgery to relieve pain and restore function. If hip replacement surgery is your best treatment option, Dr. Lee will design a plan from surgery through recovery to deliver the best results for your condition and overall health.
You’ll feel confident choosing hip replacement surgery when you know what to expect. Read on to learn about the typical course of recovery for this procedure.
Recovery from hip replacement surgery begins in the hospital. You can expect to try out your new hip joint within a day after surgery. Your first movements will include sitting on the edge of the bed, standing, and walking with assistance.
As you gain strength, a physical therapist will work with you to perform simple exercises within the first two days after your surgery. These movements will help develop mobility and strength as you learn to walk steadily with a walker or crutches. An occupational therapist will show you how to perform household tasks without risking injury. Within a couple of days, you’ll resume a normal diet and transition from getting your pain medication from an IV to taking pills for it.
A typical hospital stay lasts 1-4 days. The length of your stay will depend on your physical condition, rate of recuperation, the absence of complications, and other factors. Typically, you’ll qualify for discharge when you can do the following:
- Get in and out of bed without assistance
- Manage your pain control medication
- Eat, drink, and go to the bathroom
- Walk with a walker or crutches
- Climb up and down two or three stairs
- Perform specific exercises
- Understand your physical limitations and possible complications
If you can’t accomplish these tasks sufficiently, you may require interim care at a rehabilitation center or skilled nursing facility. At discharge, you’ll receive instructions for wound care and follow-up office visits for stitch removal and post-surgery checkups.
You’ll have a smooth transition from hospital to home if you prepare for your recovery needs before you have surgery. This may involve rearranging furniture to accommodate a walker, temporarily moving your sleeping area to avoid stairs, and arranging a comfortable sitting area. Assistive devices, such as a shower chair, grip bar, and raised toilet seat can make your home safe and usable with your new limitations.
Arrange for family members, friends, or a home health aide to assist you with daily chores. Depending on your condition and health insurance coverage, you may receive visits from a physical therapist or home health nurse to monitor your progress.
While it’s important to stay active during your recovery, doing too much too soon can jeopardize your progress. You should follow Dr. Lee’s instructions regarding how active you are as you recover.
Depending on your condition, it may take up to six weeks before you’re cleared to put full weight on your affected hip, drive a car, and resume sexual activity. Your ability to return to work will depend on your rate of recovery and the type of job you do.
To prevent your new hip joint from dislocating, you may have to adjust to a different sleeping position and avoid the following movements:
- Crossing your legs at the knees
- Bringing your knee higher than your hip
- Reaching to the floor while sitting
- Bending at the waist past 90 degrees
- Leaning forward while sitting
Individual progress will differ, but you can expect to feel back to normal after about 12 weeks. Since your hip is still healing at this time, it’s important to maintain your recovery instructions even if you feel better. Keep doing physical therapy exercises to develop strong hip muscles that can support the replacement joint.
You should also attend post-surgery visits with Dr. Lee as advised. You may have to visit more frequently during the first year and then annually in the years following. Regular examinations can help Dr. Lee detect problems early when they’re easier to treat. Long-term monitoring can improve your chances of continued success with your hip replacement surgery.
To learn more about what’s involved in hip replacement surgery, book an appointment online or over the phone with Orange Orthopaedic Associates today.