hip replacement recovery what to expect
Health

Hip replacement recovery: What you should expect

4 min read |
Esme.Davies.Author

Author 21.04.2024

Esme Davies
Michelle Kudhail

Expert review 06.06.2024

Michelle Kudhail

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

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.

Confused about care funding?

Free Care Funding Guide Download

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.

Who needs a hip replacement

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.

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. 

Hospital

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. 

This means that you start walking on the same day as the operation and can be discharged in as little as 3 days. 

The decision on when you leave hospital will be made by your care team – hip function, the ability to perform daily living activities and psychological factors all play a role in ‘home-readiness’ and recovery (Wong et al, 1999)¹.

Before you leave hospital, a member of the physiotherapy or occupational therapy team should provide you with advice on self-directed rehabilitation (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2020)².

If you have no existing health problems or complications, you may be able to follow an enhanced recovery programme. 

An approximate average length of stay without an enhanced recovery programme can be 8 days (Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, 2022)³.

Confused about care funding?

Free Care Funding Guide Download

Factors that affect hip replacement recovery

At home

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. 

You may also be eligible for up to 6 weeks of home help for hip replacement recovery known as reablement.

Stages of hip replacement recovery

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

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.

Some studies recommend that muscle strengthening exercises for the hip should be continued for at least one year, and perhaps longer (Shih et al, 1994)⁴.

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 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. 

How to avoid falls during hip replacement recovery

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.

Further reading/ academic references

1. Wong, J., Wong, S., Brooks, E., & Yabsley, R. H. (1999). Home readiness and recovery pattern after total hip replacementJournal of Orthopaedic Nursing3(4), 210-219

2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2020). Joint replacement (primary): hip, knee and shoulder [NICE guideline No.157]. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng157

3. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS University Trust (2022): Trust Guideline for the Enhanced Recovery Programme for Total Hip Replacement (THR) and / or Total Knee Replacement (TKR)

4. Shih, Chun-Hsiung M.D.; Du, Yuan-Kuen M.D.; Lin, Yang-Hua M.S.; Wu, Chi-Chuan M.D.. (1994) Muscular Recovery Around the Hip Joint After Total Hip Arthroplasty. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 302():p 115-120, May 1994.

Further reading

Royal College of Surgeons: Total hip replacement Helping you to make a speedy recovery after total hip replacement

Help them stay independent at home

Help them stay independent at home

It can be hard to admit that we’re struggling, especially for older people who are worried about losing their independence. 

But receiving care or support at home doesn’t mean the end of independent living – quite the opposite in fact. 

Help your loved one get the support they need by entering their care requirements into the Sweet Pea platform. 

Just click below.

 

Michelle Kudhail

Expert review 06.06.2024

Michelle Kudhail

BSc, MCSP, HCPC registered

Michelle Kudhail is a neurological physiotherapist with a specialism in acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions for over 30 years. She has a broad experience having worked in the USA and in the NHS and Independent sector in the UK.

Esme.Davies.Author

Author 21.04.2024

Esme Davies

Esme Davies is Sweet Pea’s Marketing and Customer Success Manager with an extensive knowledge of the issues affecting older people and their families. As one of the senior members of the Editorial Team, Esme crafts articles, guides and marketing campaigns to engage people on the importance of preparing for later life and to educate audiences on the most pressing health, care and finance topics affecting the older generation.