Hip replacement recovery is generally a quick process, helping you get mobile without pain and discomfort.
Some people worry about what to expect during hip replacement recovery, and fear long sedentary periods.
But as long as you follow care instructions, you can find yourself getting back to normal in just a few days.
This article will cover everything you need to know about hip replacement recovery and what to expect for you or your loved one.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:
- Hip replacement recovery is a postoperative process that includes managing pain, wound care and joint rehabilitation.
- The initial recovery period is fairly short, with patients expected to be mobile within 3-5 days, but a full recovery can take up to a year.
- A hip replacement is required when the hip joint is damaged due to arthritis conditions or a hip fracture.
- It’s a transformative surgery that helps people maintain their mobility as they get older while reducing pain.
What is hip replacement surgery?
A hip replacement surgery is when a damaged hip joint is replaced with a metal implant, allowing the hip to function optimally.
It is a common surgery that can be done under a general or spinal anaesthetic, ensuring that you feel no pain during the operation.
During this 1-2 hour procedure, the surgeon makes a cut into the hip, removes the damaged part and replaces it with an artificial implant.
Who needs a hip replacement?
Anyone who is experiencing constant pain or significantly reduced mobility, even while resting, may be considered for a hip replacement.
It can be done at any age, but is most commonly performed on people between the ages of 60 and 80.
This is due to age related mobility problems, as well as past injuries or lifestyle and environmental factors.
Find out more about what causes mobility issues in elderly to reduce the risk for you or your loved ones.
What conditions can cause damage to the hip?
One of the most common reasons for needing a hip replacement is due to arthritis conditions, especially osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also have a negative effect on the hip joints due to excess weight causing pain and mobility problems.
Following a rheumatoid arthritis diet can help negate the effects of the condition and reduce your risk of damage to the joints.
As well as this, hip fractures, which are often a result of falls, require surgery and hip replacement recovery.
Factors that affect hip replacement recovery
The average timeframe for hip replacement recovery is 2-6 weeks, however this can be dependent on multiple factors.
Factors that affect hip replacement recovery include:
- how active you were before your surgery
- your age
- any pre-existing conditions
- other health and lifestyle factors
What is the timeframe for hip replacement recovery?
In this section we’ll outline what you should expect for hip replacement recovery.
Please remember that your recovery period is important and you must follow instructions given by your doctor.
Here is a general overview of the average timeframe for hip replacement recovery, to give you an idea of what to expect.
After your hip operation, you’ll likely have to spend some time in the hospital.
This could be around 3 days or longer depending on how you are responding to treatment and any post surgery instructions.
If you have no existing health problems or complications, you may be able to follow an enhanced recovery programme.
This means that you start walking on the same day as the operation and can be discharged in as little as 3 days.
You will be discharged from hospital to recover at home where you will continue with recovery exercises and rehabilitation.
Remember that you may feel very tired during hip replacement recovery and may also have to manage pain.
If you already receive care in your own home or in a care facility, your care can be adapted to suit your needs.
Stages of hip replacement recovery
Hip replacement recovery – Week 1
In the first week, you’ll be recovering from the operation and will need regular support as well as pain relief.
By the third day, you should be able to walk around for short periods without too much pain.
Remember that you’ll have stitches or staples on the incision, so you can’t get it wet.
Hopefully, you’ll be leaving the hospital, so make sure you’ve got someone to drive you, as you can’t do that just yet!
Hip replacement recovery – Week 2
Continue managing pain and follow instructions for taking care of the incision to prevent infection at the site.
Physical therapies and walking should be prioritised to keep you from stiffening up and get used to the new hip.
Your stitches or staples will be removed after two weeks, and you can begin to resume your normal washing routine.
Hip replacement recovery – Week 3 onwards
All being well with your recovery, week three will see you returning slowly to normal life.
Your doctor will decide if you can start driving, return to work and resume other physical activities around this time.
Hip replacement recovery – Week 10 onwards
Around ten weeks after your hip replacement, you should be returned to normal activities.
You hopefully won’t be experiencing any pain, but remember that everyone’s recovery is different.
Bear in mind that you may need much longer to make a full recovery, so keep an eye on any pain or other symptoms.
It’s important to continue physical therapies that you are prescribed, as this will help you make a full recovery faster.
Hip replacement and attendance allowance
Attendance allowance is one of the financial benefits for elderly that helps you cover the cost of support or care aids.
If your hip was the reason you needed funding, you must notify them of a change in circumstances after your surgery.
This is because once your hip replacement recovery period has passed, you may be classed as no longer needing support for that issue.
This could be seen as one of the attendance allowance pitfalls which can make claiming the benefit complicated after a hip replacement.
Is hip replacement recovery painful?
Any pain that you were experiencing as a result of a damaged hip joint should be resolved after the operation.
However you are likely to feel some postoperative pain as your body heals from the surgery and adapts to the new normal.
You will be provided with pain relief medicines which you can take regularly for the first 72 hours.
If you notice any redness, fluid or any new pain in the replaced joint, contact your GP.
How to reduce post-operative pain for hip replacement recovery
- take time to rest and elevate the leg
- look after the incision
- take anti-inflammatory medications
- be mindful of your movements
- follow instructions and exercises from your doctor and physiotherapist
- when you turn around, take small steps instead of a swivel on the ball of your foot
- twist on your hip or bend it more than 90 degrees
- swivel on the ball of your foot when turning around
- lie on your side or put pressure on the hip immediately after surgery
- cross your legs over each other when sitting or standing
- use low chairs and toilet seats and use mobility aids where possible
How to avoid falls during hip replacement recovery
Getting used to your new hip shouldn’t take too long, but you may find yourself feeling uncertain in the first stage of recovery.
Any pains or mobility issues that made walking or other movements tricky should hopefully be resolved.
However, it’s still important to prevent falls in elderly loved ones, especially during hip replacement recovery.
This can be done by following rehabilitation exercises as well as using a walking stick or frame if it helps you to feel more balanced.
Can I plan ahead for hip replacement recovery?
It’s certainly a good idea to create a plan of action for hip replacement recovery, whether for yourself or someone else.
This could include making accessibility adaptations in your home to prevent falls or help you avoid strenuous movements.
Remember that you won’t be able to drive for a few weeks, so organising transport if you need it is a good idea.
You may be eligible for financial benefits that help pay for these adaptations or aids, which you should apply for.
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But receiving care or support at home doesn’t mean the end of independent living – quite the opposite in fact.
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