Hip replacement is a surgery performed to replace parts of a diseased hip joint with an artificial prosthesis. The goal of hip replacement is to eliminate pain and return you to your normal activities. You can help in recovery and improve the outcomes of the procedure by following certain precautions and changing the way you carry out your daily activities.
After the surgery, you may experience pain and swelling, which can be controlled with medication that your doctor will prescribe. You are discharged from the hospital once you have sufficient pain control and can perform basic activities on your own, such as getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom and walking with an assistive device such as crutches or walker. If you are unable to achieve these, you will be transferred to a skilled nursing or rehabilitation center.
On reaching home, have a family member or caregiver assist you with your activities for a few weeks. Taking care of someone following hip replacement surgery requires compassion, awareness and patience. Basic points to follow by your caregiver:
Helping with basic movement and functions as well as provide emotional support
Having a clear understanding of your medication and ensure they are administered in a timely manner
Assisting you with household chores, paperwork and traveling to keep your appointments
Keeping emergency numbers ready
Helping and motivating you to perform your rehabilitation exercises
Ensuring that furniture is rearranged so as not to interfere with your movement and cause falls.
To avoid bending or reaching out, items that you use frequently can be placed easily within reach.
Certain instructions that your doctor will brief you about are:
- Try to sit on a high chair so that your knees are not lifted above the level of your hip.
- Do not cross your legs or lean forward while sitting.
- A shower chair or gripping bar may be helpful in the bathroom.
- Make use of long shoehorns, long-handled sponges, and other devices that can help you reach objects without bending.
- You should sleep with a pillow between your legs.
- Your doctor will advise you on correct sleeping positions.
- Keep the wound clean and dry. Your doctor will let you know when you can shower or bathe.
- Swelling may be present for 3 to 6 months following hip replacement and can be controlled with ice and elevating your legs slightly.
- You may be asked to bear only partial weight on the leg for a while.
- Follow your physical therapy program for at least 2 months. Walking, stationary bicycling and swimming are good exercises, but ensure that your wound is completely healed.
You and your caregiver must be aware of the signs of infection or blood clot formation and quickly return to the hospital should you develop more than normal pain, swelling, redness, fever, chills or drainage from the wound.
You can usually return to driving once you have adequate pain control, strength and reflexes, and require no narcotic pain medications. Your doctor will decide on this and advise you regarding other activities, work and sexual activity depending on your condition and progress with therapy.