Recovering After A Hip Replacement: What You Need To Know

December 18, 2023

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, in 2017 there were over 860,000 hip and knee replacement surgeries. If an individual has pain in their hips that prevent them from sleeping, such as advanced arthritis in the hip joints, it is not possible to do routine tasks or activities without assistance, or they experience dangerous side effects from pain management medication, it might be time for hip replacement surgery. While no surgical procedure is without risk, the benefits far outweigh any potential complications. If individuals have hip replacement surgery, they will reduce or even eliminate pain, restore movement and range of motion, increase their activity level, improve their sleeping habits, and become more self-sufficient without help.

Stretching And Exercise Are Key

As technology improves, the surgical and recovery process after a hip replacement are becoming even more remarkable. It is important to note patients must put in the work for the best results, and stretching and exercise are key to your success. Individuals will have to slowly ease back into stretching and exercise, such as ankle pumps and ankle rotations as they lay in bed. Patients can then work on knee bends and backside contractions, again as they lay in bed.

Additional bed exercises include sliding each leg to the side as far as possible, raising each leg until it becomes uncomfortable, and flexing their thigh muscles. Once patients can stand, they can do knee raises, slide their legs to the side, and move their legs forward and backward. They can then begin to walk and climb stairs. Once these activities become a bit easier, patients can advance to incorporating an elastic tube into their standing exercises.

Maintain A Healthy Weight And Diet

Hip surgery is not an overall pleasant experience, and it takes time to heal. However, the results make it all worthwhile. If patients do not take care of themselves before and after the surgery, they might just have to do it all over again sooner rather than later. Overweight individuals are more likely to require hip replacement surgery than those who are a healthy weight. If patients lose weight before the surgery, it can make the process easier by decreasing the amount of time they are under anesthesia, and it makes reaching the joints easier for the doctor as well.

After the surgery, if patients maintain a healthy weight and diet, they will have a faster recovery time, less risk of a blood clot developing and the hip replacement will last longer. If an individual cannot lose weight before the surgery, they should speak with their doctor and a nutritionist about a healthy weight loss program of diet and exercise to follow as they heal and beyond. They should avoid fad diets as they do not work in the long term.

Prevent Blood Clots With Compression Socks

Blood clots are quite scary and life-threatening if they are not discovered or left untreated. While the clotting of blood is highly beneficial for cuts and scrapes, when a clot forms inside a vein or artery, it can lead to a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, kidney failure, and deep vein thrombosis. Fortunately, patients can take steps to prevent them from developing after surgery. Patients should initially stop smoking, lose weight, and discuss any family history of blood clots with your doctor. The next step is to prevent blood clots with compression socks.

Patients can choose either knee-high or thigh-high compression socks. Many individuals prefer the knee-high length, though the thigh-high socks are better in some circumstances. It is important to wear them every day until a doctor gives their permission to set them aside. If patients are going to fly anytime in the future, it is a good idea to wear compression socks during air travel to prevent the development of blood clots as well.

Medications That Help

Patients will likely experience some mild pain and discomfort after their hip replacement surgery. Managing this pain and discomfort will be essential to a faster recovery period. Patients can try some holistic remedies, such as raising their legs, using a cold press, remaining active, and drinking herbal teas. If a patient does require prescription medicine, their doctor may advise a nerve blocker and opioids as a way to prevent and manage pain. Patients could also take medications that help to manage their inflammation and pain in the form of steroids.

Given the dangers of opioids, many medical professionals are recommending acupuncture as a safer alternative to pharmaceutical medications to manage pain after hip replacement surgery. A study published in 2015 from The Joint Replacement Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital revealed acupuncture is a highly viable alternative to medications for such patients. Other alternative treatments include massage therapy, physical therapy, music therapy, relaxation therapy, and mental health therapy.

Prepare The House For Reduced Mobility

Patients will not be able to get around easily after hip replacement surgery. The best way to make life easier is to prepare the house for reduced mobility inside and outside. In the garage, patients should keep items they may need at waist level if at all possible. All stairs should have railings and patients should remember to clearly mark any uneven ground or flooring. Declutter all walking paths to any door they might use. Patients should ask a neighbor or hire someone to take care of yard maintenance.

Inside the house, patients should remove clutter in major walking paths, remove rugs, add railings to stairs, create a space on the first floor to sleep and bathe, remove tables in front of sofas and chairs, add cushions to sofas and chairs, move frequently used items to waist-high countertops, apply adhesive strips to the shower floor, and get a raised seat for the toilet. Patients should also be sure to have someone to check on them regularly and help with errands during the recovery period.

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