Hip Replacement Recovery Week by Week

Wed, Jan 04, 2023

Hip Replacement Recovery Week by Week

Has your doctor told you that you need your hip replaced? Believe it or not, this surgery has become very common since its introduction in the 1960s, and it’s now one of the most successful pain and mobility solutions for people suffering from hip damage due to osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteonecrosis. In fact, it’s estimated that 450,000 total hip replacements are performed each year in the United States. So, if this procedure is in your future, what can you expect your hip replacement recovery week by week to be like?

Your Questions Answered About Recovery From Hip Replacement Surgery

A woman in a hospital bed, her husband next to her, smiles as her doctor talks about hip replacement recovery week by week.

Hip replacement surgery takes a couple of hours. While some patients may be hospitalized overnight for two to three days afterward, some patients are released the same day if there are no complications or the surgery isn’t complex. However, when you go home, it’s important to have support there, whether it’s a friend, family member, or service. If you don’t have access to help, you may be sent to a rehabilitation facility for several days. You also won’t be able to drive yet, so you’ll need transportation to your destination.

Before the surgery:

Some patients may get started on physical therapy beforehand to familiarize themselves with the exercises they’ll do during recovery and to strengthen muscles in the meantime.

You may also want to remove clutter in your home or tripping hazards such as small area rugs so that your environment is as safe as possible while you’re recovering. Installing night-lights and securing stair handrails will help with your safety as well.

After the surgery:

While some recoveries take only two to four weeks and others last eight to 12 weeks, your recovery time length depends on your hip damage, the complexity of the surgery, your age, and your physical and overall health. However, all recoveries have exercise and physical therapy in common along with a gradual resumption of activities of daily living (ADLs).

Week One:

  • The most important thing you can do for hip surgery recovery is to get moving. You’ll be encouraged to start moving soon after surgery is over with the assistance of a walker or crutch to help you keep your balance. (It’s actually fine to put weight on your new hip.) You’ll also start physical therapy and exercise as soon as 24 hours after the surgery. This can happen in your home or at a facility. Exercises should be performed for 20 to 30 minutes two to three times a day to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the new joint.
  • Blood thinners may be prescribed to keep blood clots from forming. You may also need to wear compression socks to keep blood from pooling and causing clots.
  • You will be prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain-relief medications after surgery to take as needed during the first couple of weeks.
  • There will be some swelling at the incision site, especially after any activity. Applying ice to the leg and the incision site can help reduce swelling. When resting, raising the leg above the heart can also help.
  • You will be allowed to shower with your incision covered, but bathing and swimming are not recommended until the incision has healed. (Complete healing may take up to six weeks.)

Week Two:

  • You’ll gradually increase your exercise and therapy this week. It’s also encouraged to start simple chores or activities (such as preparing your own meals and walking to the mailbox).
  • You’ll probably have a follow-up appointment with your doctor this week. Also, around 10 to 14 days after the surgery, your doctor will remove your stitches (sutures or staples). If you have adhesive skin closures, allow them to come off by themselves, which may take a little longer.
  • Your doctor may start to taper you off blood thinners before the end of this week. Prescription pain medication may end now if it hasn’t already. You can probably continue over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs as long as you need them.

Weeks Three to Six:

  • You’ll continue to resume normal activities as you feel able, along with continuing exercises and therapy.
  • Barring any earlier complications, you’ll probably have another follow-up with your doctor at six weeks.
  • Many people return to work around this time if it is not a physically challenging position.
  • Driving:
  • Many patients have found that they can start driving around at four weeks of recovery time from a hip replacement.
  • However, you must not be on prescription pain medication when driving.
  • You might need a little longer recovery time if you had your right hip replaced because of the stress braking and accelerating puts on your hip and leg.

Weeks Seven through 12:

  • Most surgeons believe you should be well on your way to recovery at this point and have resumed most, if not all, of your daily activities.
  • You’ll probably have a follow-up with your doctor around week 12.
  • Pain should be minimal.
  • Continue with exercises and avoid sitting for long periods of time.

One Year and After That:

  • You will have routine visits with your doctor to ensure your new hip continues to work well.

Our Commitment to Your Complete Recovery From Hip Replacement

At North Carolina Specialty Hospital, not only will your hip replacement surgery go smoothly, but your hip replacement recovery week by week will too. It’s part of our commitment that started in 1926 to bring the highest quality and cutting-edge care to our community. Getting you back to pain-free living is our most important goal.

If you need a hip replacement, find out the difference North Carolina Specialty Hospital can make in both your recovery and the outcome.

Learn more about our Orthopedics Department here. Then, request an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon today by clicking on the surgeon’s photo and completing the form.

We look forward to helping you get the best outcome from your hip replacement surgery.

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