Recovering from Hip Surgery
When conservative treatment options have been explored to no avail, hip surgery may be the only option to correct the hip pain or stiffness you’ve been experiencing. Don’t feel troubled, you are in good company. With more than 300,000 hip surgeries performed annually in the United States alone, it is a very common procedure that many need to recover from. Here is what you can do now to be more prepared when it's your turn to recover.
What to Expect
Recovery from surgery involves several important steps that determine the level of your postoperative long-term health and mobility. A mindful recovery can actually determine the ultimate success of the surgery itself. Most hip replacement patients are up and walking either the same day or next of surgery and are able to head home to recover. Within 3 to 6 weeks, patients can return to their previous routine activities, such as driving or walking without a walker or crutches. Within 10-12 weeks, you should be able to return to most of your normal activities without the pain and stiffness of your old hip!
- Prevent Blood Clots. Hip surgery increases the risk of blood clots in your legs. Sitting up and walking soon after surgery is essential to improve circulation. Elastic compression stockings exert pressure on your legs and keep blood from pooling in your veins, decreasing the chances of clots forming.
- Manage Pain. Due to your surgery, you will experience pain and swelling. Have a plan in place with the help of your doctor and loved ones helping you through your recovery, especially during those first few days and weeks. Pain medication prescribed by your doctor, ice, and gentle walking will help reduce swelling and control the pain.
- Move. Regaining momentum and range of motion increases dramatically if you engage in light activity as soon as possible. Walk, sit up, stand, climb stairs, and get involved in light household activities. Increase this activity slowly to establish a healthy exercise routine. Start gently, and be consistent.
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight. Your new hip prosthesis is sensitive to excess weight; risking complication or decreasing the lifespan of the prosthesis itself. Paying attention to diet and weight will help control weight gain and prolong the integrity of your new hip.
- Recover Alone. Typically, patients are discharged to a rehabilitation facility or home within two to five days following hip surgery. In either setting, ensuring that you have proper assistance will foster a more successful recovery. Ask for help with driving to appointments, managing medications, household chores (e.g. laundry, vacuuming, etc.), grocery shopping and meal preparation, and showering.
- Overdo It. Movements such as bending your hip more than 90 degrees, picking items up off the floor, crossing your legs, or bending or twisting at the foot or knee are motions that should only be performed once you have healed from the trauma of surgery and your new hip is ready to function more completely. Consult with your physician concerning when you will be ready to resume full range of motion and movement.
- Lift Heavy Objects. Remember, excess weight causes a lot of strain to your prosthesis, and during recovery you should be sensitive to your body healing. Let others around you help with the heavy lifting during your recovery.