Recovering From a Hip Replacement

Jory Cross by Jory Cross | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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The first hip replacement surgery was in 1960, and it has become commonplace. The right kind of exercise might help you recover faster from your hip surgery, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Are you about to have hip replacement surgery, or did you just have it? Here are some recovery tips from the AAOS.

How soon can I walk after hip replacement surgery?

In most cases you’ll be able to walk within a day or two, according to a Harvard Medical School publication. You can usually expect to continue normal, light activity within three to six weeks after hip replacement surgery, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Of course, conditions will vary among people, and your doctor should be your guide about how much and how soon you resume normal activities.

What kind of hip replacement recovery can I expect?

Ideally, you’ll be able to walk and move better – and without pain – after you’ve recovered from hip replacement surgery. For many people, that is the outcome, according to the AAOS. But some people might have pain if the replacement joint loosens, especially if you put excessive stress on it.

Hip replacement parts will undergo normal wear and tear over time. Being overweight or “excessive activity” can wear them out much faster, the AAOS cautions. High-impact sports such as running, jogging, or jumping can stress the new hip. Walking, hiking, and swimming are examples of low-impact activities that are safer. With proper care, your hip replacement may last for many years.

You may also have some numbness around the incision, and possibly some stiffness. In many cases, the stiffness is temporary.

What can I do to help my recovery from hip replacement surgery?

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests the following tips to help you recover from this surgery. These are just some of the Academy’s many suggestions. Review these suggestions with your doctor first.

  • Keep the incision site dry.
  • When you sit, your knees should be lower than your hips. It may help to put firm cushions on your chairs and sofas.
  • Don’t bend very much at the hips. You might want to use a long-handled shoehorn and a device to help you put on socks – these are generally available at drugstores.
  • You also might want to get another device, sometimes called a “grabber,” to help you pick up small items.
  • Use a cane, walker, or other walking aid for the first few weeks.
  • Tell your dentist that you’ve had hip replacement surgery. You might need to take antibiotics before having dental work. Some doctors recommend that you don’t have your teeth cleaned at the dentist’s for the first several weeks after surgery.
  • Walk and do other exercises that your doctor recommends to help recovery. Your doctor may order physical therapy for you so you can learn how to do exercises that can help you.

What can go wrong with hip replacement recovery?

The AAOS lists several things, including infection and blood clots, that could cause problems after hip replacement surgery. Talk with your doctor about the risks of this surgery.

The AAOS advises you to watch for signs of infection or blood clots. Signs of infection might include fever, increasing redness or swelling, increasing pain, or leakage from the incision site. Signs of a blood clot might include pain or swelling in your leg. A blood clot could travel to the lungs. If you have sudden pain in your chest or shortness of breath, or you start coughing and have chest pain, it could mean you have a blood clot in your lung (pulmonary embolism).

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms described above.

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