Tips for Successfully Recovering from Hip Replacement Surgery

The arthritis in your hip made it too painful to walk most days, so you've talked with your doctor and decided to have a total hip replacement done. The surgery is just the first step to getting back up on your feet. Once you get home, a successful recovery depends on many factors. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions before you leave the hospital after your surgery. In the meantime, here are some tips to make sure your recovery goes smoothly and you can start walking without pain again.

1. Manage your pain medication schedule closely.

Plan your schedule so you take your pain medication about a half hour before you exercise or have physical therapy. Your sessions will go better if you know you won't have pain during or after the exercises on your hip.

2. Be diligent about your physical therapy (PT) and exercise.

There may be days when you just don't want to get out of bed, but you need to follow your exercise plan exactly. The exercises and PT improve the flexibility of the muscles and tendons in your hip. They need to be slowly stretched and strengthened to give you normal mobility in your hip again.

3. Follow your doctor's instructions about weight bearing.

You risk damage to or dislocation of your hip if you put too much weight on it too soon. If the orthopedist used bone cement on your hip replacement, you'll be able to put some weight on your hip and use a cane or walker for support for a few weeks. If the procedure did not use cement, you'll have to keep weight off the hip for a few days initially. Then you can put weight on the hip while using support.

4. Manage your hip position when sleeping.

Sleep on your back, when possible. If you have to sleep on your side, always have a pillow between your legs to keep your hip from moving. Your doctor can recommend special pillows with straps to hold them onto your leg in order to keep your hip in the right position when on your side.

5. Don't bend your hip more than a right angle.

There is a risk of your new hip replacement dislocating should you bend the joint at more than a right angle. To prevent this,

  • don't sit on low chairs or sofas.
  • don't sit on soft chairs or sofas that let you sink down into them.
  • don't lean forward when sitting.
  • don't cross your legs at the knees.
  • don't bend forward at the waist to pick up something from the floor.

A successful recovery from hip surgery depends on you managing your medications and exercises at home. Be diligent about your therapy and take precautions with your hip to have a smooth, problem-free recovery. If you have further concerns or questions, contact a doctor from an establishment like the Orthopaedic Associates of Muskegon.