Here at OrthoSouth, we’re dedicated to providing our patients and members of the community with the information they need to feel confident in their care.
Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure that is done to replace a damaged or worn-out hip joint with an artificial joint. It can relieve pain, improve mobility, and enhance quality of life for those suffering from hip conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or hip fractures. However, like any surgery, it requires proper post-operative care and rehabilitation to ensure a successful recovery.
Read on to learn more about what to expect during hip replacement recovery and how to prepare for it. Important: The following does not constitute medical advice. Call your surgeon with any questions, and dial 911 in an emergency.
Immediate post-operative period
After the surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room, where you will be closely monitored by the medical staff for a few hours. Your vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels, will be checked regularly. You may also receive pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection. In some cases, a drainage tube may be inserted to remove excess fluid from the surgical site. You will also be given instructions on how to care for the incision site and how to use a walker or crutches to move around.
Historically, most people stayed in the hospital for 1-3 days after hip replacement surgery, depending on their overall health and the type of surgery they had. Advancements in the procedure have made shorter stays possible, and today OrthoSouth even offers “same day” hip replacement in our outpatient surgery centers for certain patients.
Whether at the outpatient surgery center or a hospital, you will receive pain medication, antibiotics, and an introduction to physical therapy after the surgery. The physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your hip muscles, improve your range of motion, and help you learn how to walk again with your new hip joint. You will also learn how to use assistive devices such as a raised toilet seat, a shower bench, and a long-handled sponge to make daily tasks easier.
Recovery at home
Once you are discharged from the hospital or surgery center, you will continue your recovery at home. It is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully to ensure a smooth recovery. Here are some tips to help you during this phase:
- Follow a healthy diet: A balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals is important for healing and rebuilding tissues. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt.
- Take your medications as prescribed: Pain medication and blood thinners are commonly prescribed after hip replacement surgery. It is important to take them exactly as directed to manage pain, prevent blood clots, and reduce the risk of infection.
- Practice good hygiene: Keep the incision site clean and dry to prevent infection. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching the incision site. Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid rubbing against the incision site.
- Get plenty of rest: Rest is essential for healing. Avoid strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects, running, or jumping, and follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding when you can resume normal activities.
- Attend physical therapy: Physical therapy is an essential part of hip replacement recovery. It helps to improve your range of motion, build strength, and reduce pain. Attend all your physical therapy appointments and follow the exercises prescribed by your therapist.
- Use assistive devices: Use assistive devices such as a walker, cane, or crutches as needed to reduce stress on your new hip joint. Avoid sitting in low chairs or on soft surfaces that may cause your hip to flex too much.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and help flush out toxins.
While hip replacement surgery is generally safe and effective, there are some possible complications that can occur. These include:
- Infection: Infection can occur at the surgical site and may require antibiotics or additional surgery.
- Blood clots: Blood clots can form in the legs after surgery and may travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. To prevent blood clots, your surgeon may prescribe blood thinners and advise you to wear compression stockings and move your legs regularly.
- Dislocation: The new hip joint may dislocate if the ball and socket become separated. To prevent this, you will need to avoid certain movements and positions, especially in the first few months after surgery.
- Loosening of the joint: Over time, the artificial joint may become loose and require revision surgery.
If you experience unusual symptoms such as fever, severe pain, swelling, or redness around the incision site, contact your surgeon immediately. If you experience shortness of breath, call 911.
Hip replacement surgery can significantly improve the quality of life for those suffering from hip conditions. However, proper post-operative care and rehabilitation are essential for a successful recovery. Follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully, attend all your physical therapy appointments, and practice good hygiene and healthy habits to help your body heal. Remember to be patient and give your body time to recover fully before resuming your normal activities. With proper care and support, you can expect to regain your mobility and enjoy an active, pain-free life.
Have more questions? Give us a call!
Thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about hip replacement surgery. At OrthoSouth, you can be confident that your providers will leverage decades of experience and the highest quality of training and education to ensure that you receive the best, most empathetically-provided care available. Call today with any questions and to see your expert provider. We look forward to helping you feel like the best possible version of yourself!