What to Expect After a Hip Replacement
That aching, painful and stiff hip has reduced your quality of life. You can’t enjoy the activities you used to love, like a good golf game, a walk around the block or even playing with the grandkids, without constant pain.
Over 300,000 people have hip replacement surgery each year in the United States. Before you decide to join this group, it is important to know what to expect following surgery. What will you experience after your hip replacement? When will you feel back to normal? What can you do to speed your recovery?
Pain After a Hip Replacement
First things first, hip replacement surgery will hurt. All surgery does! Be prepared that you will experience a significant amount of discomfort in the first three days following surgery. Your mobility will be limited, and you will need to depend on others to help you with your regular activities of daily living. Even simple things like going to the bathroom will require assistance.
On the first day, a significant amount of surgical pain medication will be in your system. You may feel groggy but not as uncomfortable. On the second day, you will likely be able to get out of bed and start moving with assistance. Although you had surgery on the largest joint in your body, you will be walking on it in only one or two days.
Be ready for the third day after surgery. You will probably feel like you got hit by a truck. After surgery, your body sends a large number of inflammatory cells to the injured area in order to help with the healing process. These levels will be at the highest on day three. Inflammation means swelling and swelling means pain. Talk to your doctor their recommendations for using ice and taking an anti-inflammatory medication starting on the day of surgery. But remember, typically, once you get through day three the swelling and pain will get better.
Walking After Hip Replacement Surgery
Most likely, you will be up and walking the day after your surgery. Take it slow and don’t push yourself beyond what you can handle. Getting up and active following surgery is vital to speeding up your recovery after a hip replacement. Try to exercise for 20-30 minutes at a time. The first day that might just mean getting out of bed and to the hallway. Don’t feel discouraged by this!
Moving around will not only speed up your recovery but will also increase the circulation to your legs and feet which will reduce your chance of getting a blood clot. Blood clots are a serious risk following all types of surgery but can be prevented by early movement and exercise.
Getting out of bed will also help to maintain and increase your muscle strength while preventing your new hip from getting stiff. You’ll want to take full advantage of that new level of hip movement. Don’t forget that getting out of bed and being able to walk with a walker or cane is one of the goals you need to accomplish before going home from the hospital.
Your Hip Replacement Recovery Checklist
Typically, after two to four days you will be discharged from the hospital to either your home or to a rehabilitation facility. Here are some goals to use as a checklist when transitioning back to your home. Make sure that:
You can get out of bed by yourself.
Your pain is adequately under control. This doesn’t mean you’re pain-free but it should be manageable.
You can eat, drink, sleep and go to the bathroom.
You can walk with a cane, walker or crutches.
You’re ready to do home exercises on your own.
You know what you need to do to protect your new hip from an injury.
Before you go home, you will need to have someone available to help you at home. This can be a friend, family member or a caregiver. At home, you will want to make sure that your furniture is set up so that you can get around your house easily.