Patients post a hip replacement do well. One of the risks post a hip replacement is a dislocation. To help prevent this we have put some precautions in place to help prevent this. These precautions are in place for the first 3 months (unless otherwise indicated).
In hospital you did exercises with the physio. In the first 2 weeks post a hip replacement the focus is on regaining mobility in the hip.
We expect that you should be mobile within your home. You will either use a walker or crutches for the first 4 weeks post a hip replacement, unless otherwise indicated by the surgeon.
The follow up with the surgeon post op can be anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks post operation. In this time the key things are:
A nice way to think of your recovery steps is a nemonic: POLICE
P- protect, this means using your crutches while we allow you to recovery post surgery
OL- optimally load- using your crutches for the allocated time
I- ice- helps with pain. It is something that you can do for yourself, and is often forgotten as a natural anti-inflammatory.
C- compression- this comes from the stockings, which help with both clot prevention and controlling swelling. If swelling decreased, then the scar heals better, and there is also less pain
E- elevation- this is also to help with controlling the swelling. Mix your day between sitting, lying down and moving around.
Frequently asked questions:
Crutches and walkers:
- Which should I use? This will have been decided in hospital. It is based on whether you are a fall risk or not. If you have a risk of falling then a walker will be better. The other factor will depend on which you are more comfortable using, and your home environment. Sometimes people will have a use for both a walker and crutches.
- How long should I used the crutches or walker for? A minimum of 4 weeks unless otherwise stated.
- Can I get rid of the crutches if I feel I don’t need them before the 4 weeks is up? No.
- How long should I keep my stockings on for? 4 weeks
- Do I keep the stockings on for 4 weeks day and night? Yes
- Can I wash the stockings? Yes. Take them off hand wash them, hang out to dry (they dry quickly), and get someone to help put them back on again.
- Should I take the stockings off when I shower? Yes
- When can I drive? Only at least 4 weeks after the surgery (yes this is research based, and based on reaction and stopping times post a total hip and knee replacement), and when you are minimally dependent on pain killers, hardly using your crutches, you can get in and out of the car on your own. If you are still needing max assistance from crutches or still using alot of pain killers then you are not ready to drive.
- I have put on weight because of not exercising, when can I start again? Weight gain is 80% due to diet. This is a chance to look at your diet and improve your eating habits. When recuperating at home visitors and family think they should bring your cake, sweets and chocolates. The weight gain can be more from this rather than a lack of exercise. Stick with your physiotherapy program, and your physiotherapist and surgeon will advise when you can get back to regular exercise.
- Can I walk? When you go home, you should be active within the home. As you come off crutches (around 4-6 weeks post operation), the first goal is to get back to you normal activities. Once you cope with daily activities then you can look at adding extra activities such as walking for fitness.
- Often post surgery you are not that hungry, that is ok. It is also a time to have a look at your diet and see if there are changes you can make to overall health. This is an article on diet and osteoarthritis
- How long does it take? The recovery process goes on for 1-2 years. Your biggest gains are made in the first 4 months, and this is where you will notice the biggest improvements, but healing continues after this too. Recovery is a journey not a destination.
If you are reading this article because you are thinking about surgery, you might find our first article about preparing for surgery helpful.