Wife assisting her husband who's using a walker after hip replacement surgery

What To Expect After Hip Replacement Surgery

After hip replacement surgery, you’re faced with a mountain of questions and concerns. What kind of care will you receive while you’re still in the hospital? How long will you be there? And what will you need in terms of home care after hip replacement surgery? 

Anxieties like these can make hip surgery seem intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. Your hip replacement surgery will reduce the pain you feel on a daily basis and help you feel like yourself again. And with the right care, you’ll be back on your feet in no time. 

Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the things you can expect after hip replacement surgery, and what you can do to speed up your healing.  

Medical care after hip replacement surgery

Most of the time, hip replacement surgery doesn’t require a lengthy hospital stay. In fact, many patients can go home on the very same day they receive surgery. 

If you don’t have someone to drive you home, you may be asked to stay overnight. And if you have any other health complications, your healthcare team may want to monitor you longer. 

During the healing process, there are a few things your medical care team might suggest to make recovery as smooth as possible.

Pain management

Your wound care solutions in the early days after surgery will include pain medication that’s usually anti-inflammatory. Pain is a natural part of surgery, but people who receive hip replacement surgery find that even during the healing process, they’re in less pain. 

Most of your pain at this point will be from the incision and surrounding muscles, not the hip itself. The new joint will be artificial and have no nerve endings that cause pain. This means that the grating, bone-on-bone pain that’s currently limiting your movement will be gone after hip replacement surgery.  

Physical therapy

Before your surgery, you might go through “prehab” – a form of physical therapy designed to strengthen your muscles ahead of time. Studies have shown that prehab reduces pain and gets you comfortably back on your feet faster after hip replacement surgery.

You’ll also be attending regular physical therapy appointments after surgery. A physical therapist is an expert in how the body moves. They’ll walk you through stretches and exercises that are designed to help you increase strength and flexibility in your new hip joint. 

Physical therapy can be difficult and exhausting at first, so make sure you take excellent care of yourself afterward. Don’t shy away from using pain medication as needed, and give your body everything it needs to repair and strengthen those muscles! Drink plenty of water, and make sure you’re eating lots of protein.

Mobility aids and caregivers

Depending on your unique needs, your healthcare team might recommend using a mobility aid or hiring a caregiver for the early days after hip replacement surgery. 

Mobility aids, like a walker or a cane, can help you get back on your feet quickly, even if you’re still rebuilding strength. 

Generally, you can and should be up and moving right away after hip replacement surgery. Moving the replacement joint will prevent stiffness and allow your body to adjust to the change more quickly.

Getting back on your feet is important, even if you need a mobility aid. Current evidence and best practice show that moving as soon as possible after surgery reduces the risk of blood clots.

You can ask a friend or family member for help, or you can hire a professional caregiver.

Caregivers can help you safely move through your home, pick up medications, and get you to follow-up appointments. They can also help with basic everyday tasks like bathing, cooking, and cleaning while you’re still in recovery.

Since you’ll be headed home soon after your surgery, most of your care will be home care. There are plenty of things you or your caregiver can do to help ease you through the recovery process. Let’s take a look at the best home care practices after surgery. 

Home care after hip replacement surgery

Home care after hip replacement surgery is fairly straightforward. The most important part is doing these simple things consistently to speed up your healing. 

Remove fall hazards

The first step in basic care after hip replacement surgery is removing fall hazards from your home. It’s normal to feel a little unsteady on your feet at first, but falling on your new hip joint can be dangerous. 

Before surgery, you’ll want to go through your home looking for anything that could cause you to trip.

Start by looking for any cords that aren’t tucked against a wall, rugs with curled edges, or clutter on the floor. Then, move any furniture obscuring walking paths and check to make sure your home is well-lit, so you can see the way ahead clearly. 

Last, but not least, plan to wear socks or shoes with grippy soles while you’re healing to decrease the risk of slipping on any hard flooring.

RICE

The classic acronym “RICE” – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation – is also a basic form of home care after hip replacement surgery. You’ll want to make sure you get plenty of rest, especially after physical therapy, bathing, or other physically intense activities.

Icing can reduce swelling and discomfort around your incision. 

When using ice packs, don’t allow them to touch the wound directly. Wrap them in a tea towel or place them over the incision through your clothes. Use ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time, and cycle ice in a pattern of 20 minutes on and 40 minutes off every hour.

Compression isn’t necessary for all patients, but if your doctor has determined that you’re at a high risk of blood clots, they may recommend compression socks in the first few days after your surgery. 

Finally, elevate your leg above the heart when you lie down. This reduces swelling and decreases the risk that a blood clot will form.

Monitor your incision

After hip replacement surgery, you’ll have a small incision externally. This can be covered with a simple square bandage and should heal in about six weeks. Wounds of any size can be vulnerable to infection, so it’s important to know the signs. 

Infected wounds can look red and inflamed. Unlike wounds that aren’t infected, this will get worse with time instead of better. You may also have a fever, notice pus draining from the wound, or notice that the wound gets suddenly intensely painful. 

If you’re dealing with a suspected infection or wound not healing, reach out to your doctor immediately. 

A doctor will be able to rule out any dangerous infections. Then, they’ll help you formulate a plan to get back on the road to recovery.

Use a wound-healing diet 

The incision you see externally isn’t the only wound your body is healing from. The hip replacement also damages deep tissues your body will need to repair and rebuild internally. Going on a wound-healing, post-surgery diet will support this process. 

Wound-healing diets are high in protein and vitamins to give your body all the basic building blocks it needs to heal. Collagen peptides are a great example of this. 

Take collagen supplements to boost your recovery

Besides basic care, you might choose to supplement your healing with collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body. A fortified collagen supplement contains all the amino acids your body needs to rebuild the muscles and ligaments that were damaged during the surgery.

Collagen wound healing has been studied for several years with excellent results. When part of a wound-healing diet and paired with basic care, it can accelerate healing by boosting your body’s natural ability to produce and use collagen.

Hip replacement surgery recovery FAQs

Understanding the general care you need after hip replacement surgery doesn’t always answer every question. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about hip surgery, and the answers you need to plan for your recovery.

How long does it take to walk normally after surgery?

Most patients can walk on the same day of their surgery. You can expect to wait a few months before you’re “fully recovered,” but walking normally will happen within a couple of weeks. 

Your range of motion for sitting or stretching and your strength for things like jogging and sports will take longer to return than your ability to walk normally.

What part of hip replacement surgery hurts the most?

Each person’s pain tolerance is unique. Some people might find that the pain in their hip and leg after surgery is intense all the time at first, while others might barely notice it. 

Across the board, though, people are relieved the arthritis pain is gone after hip replacement surgery. Handling the pain from surgery recovery is the easy part!

When can you go back to work?

When you should return to work will depend on what kind of job you have and whether you have any personal medical complications. 

If you work a job that doesn’t require any heavy lifting or long periods of time on your feet, you can expect to take about two weeks off. Any manual labor jobs will require a period of about six weeks before you can return to work.

When can you start exercising again?

Exercising after hip replacement surgery is encouraged! And when you get back to exercise, use collagen for joints to support your other hip and knees. Being able to return to exercising normally will depend on two things. 

First, your physical therapy will track your strength and flexibility. Your physical therapist can make a plan that helps you work up to the kind of exercise you prefer. 

Second, the kind of exercise you enjoy may need review. High-impact sports involving repetitive leg movements, running, or jumping are generally unsafe after hip replacement surgery.

When can you resume sexual activity?

Sexual activity is fine to resume at about six weeks after surgery. You’ll want to avoid any positions that put strain on your hip and get the all-clear from your doctor first.

What do you need to avoid after hip replacement surgery?

There are a handful of lifetime precautions you’ll need to take after hip surgery. Even when you’ve recovered, following these recommendations will ensure your new hip doesn’t get prematurely worn down and none of the surrounding muscles get damaged. 

Avoid bending more than 90 degrees and any twisting motions, including walking without having your toes aligned with your hips. If you’re a side sleeper, place a pillow between your legs at night so you can keep your hips aligned and remove excess pressure.

Recovering from hip replacement surgery

Hip replacement surgery is one of the safest surgeries you can go through, and the benefits are immeasurable. Being able to move through your day without pain can give you a new lease on life and let you get back to many of the activities you missed due to severe hip pain. 

Recovery after hip replacement surgery is a brief transition from dealing with daily pain to living pain-free or with significantly less pain due to arthritis. To speed your recovery, follow your physical therapist’s instructions and make sure your body has everything it needs to heal. 

This means you’ll need to get plenty of rest, move your hip gently, and meet your protein needs. A medical-grade collagen supplement can help you recover from hip replacement surgery as quickly as possible.

Unlike the average collagen supplement, medical-grade collagen is regulated by the FDA and overseen by medical professionals. It has been proven safe to use for wound healing, and is trusted for use in thousands of medical facilities across the country. 

If you are hoping to get back on your feet as swiftly as possible after your hip replacement surgery, taking a daily medical-grade collagen supplement could make all the difference in your recovery. 


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