You had a hip joint replacement surgery to replace all or part of your hip joint with an artificial joint. This artificial joint is called a prosthesis.
By the time you go home, you should be able to walk with a walker or crutches without needing much help. Most people do not need them after 2 to 4 weeks. Check with your doctor about when to stop using crutches.
You should also be able to dress yourself with only a little help and be able to get into and out of your bed or a chair by yourself. You should also be able to use the toilet without much help.
You will need to be careful that you do not dislocate your artificial hip, especially in the first few months after surgery. You will need to learn exercises that make your new hip stronger and take special precautions.
You will need to have someone with you at home 24 hours a day for 1 to 2 weeks after you leave the hospital or rehab center. You will need help preparing meals, bathing, moving around the house, and doing other daily activities.
Over time, you should be able to return to your former level of activity. You will need to avoid some sports, such as downhill skiing or contact sports like football and soccer. But you should be able to do low impact activities, such as hiking, gardening, swimming, playing tennis, and golfing.
Your bed should be low enough for your feet to touch the floor when you sit on the edge of the bed. Your bed should also be high enough so that your hips are higher than your knees when you sit on the edge. You will not need a hospital bed, but your mattress should be firm.
Keep tripping hazards out of your home.
Place a chair with a firm back in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and other rooms you will use. This way, you can sit when you do your daily tasks.
Set up your home so that you do not have to climb steps. Some tips are:
You will need to be careful to not dislocate your new hip when you are walking, sitting, lying down, dressing, taking a bath or shower, and doing other activities.
Keep moving and walking once you get home. Do not put your full weight on your side with the new hip until your doctor tells you it is okay. Start out with short periods of activity, and then gradually increase them. Your doctor or physical therapist will give you exercises to do at home.
Use your crutches or walker for as long as you need them. Check with your doctor before you stop using them.
After a few days you may be able to do simple household chores. But, do not try to do heavier chores, such as vacuuming or laundry. Remember, you will get tired quickly at first.
Wear a small fanny pack or backpack, or attach a basket or strong bag to your walker, so that you can keep small household items, like a phone and notepad, with you.
Keep your dressing (bandage) on your wound clean and dry. You may change the dressing according to when your doctor told you to change it. Be sure to change it if it gets dirty or wet. Follow these steps when you change your dressing:
Sutures (stitches) or staples will be removed about 10 to 14 days after surgery. Do not shower until 3 - 4 days after your surgery, or when your doctor told you to shower. When you can shower, let water run over your incision but do not scrub it or let the water beat down on it. Do not soak in a bathtub, hot tub, or swimming pool.
You may have bruising around your wound. This is normal, and it will go away on its own. The skin around your incision may be a little red. This is normal too.
Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicines. Get it filled when you go home so you have it when you need it. Take your pain medicine when you start having pain. Waiting too long to take it will allow your pain to get more severe than it should.
In the early part of your recovery, taking pain medicine about 30 minutes before you increase your activity can help control pain.
You may be asked to wear special “compression” stockings on your legs for about 6 weeks. These will help prevent blood clots from forming. You may also need to take blood thinners for 2 to 4 weeks to lower your risk of blood clots. Take all your medicines the way your doctor or nurse told you to.
Your doctor will tell you when it is okay to start sexual activity again.
People who have a prosthesis, such as an artificial joint, need to carefully protect themselves against infection. You should carry a medical identification card in your wallet that says you have a prosthesis. You will need to take antibiotics before any dental work or invasive medical procedures. Check with your doctor and make sure you tell your dentist that you had a hip replacement and need antibiotics before any dental work.
Call your doctor if you have:
Also call your doctor if you:
Hip arthroplasty - discharge; Total hip replacement - discharge; Hip hemiarthroplasty - discharge
Harkess JW, Crockarell Jr JR. Arthroplasty of the hip. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 3.
Minns Lowe CJ, Barker KL, Dewey ME, Sackley CM. Effectiveness of physiotherapy exercise following hip arthroplasty for osteoarthritis: a systematic review of clinical trials. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2009 Aug 4; 10:98.
Ververeli PA, Lebby EB, Tyler C, Fouad C. Evaluation of reducing postoperative hip precautions in total hip replacement: a randomized propsective study. Orthopedics. 2009 Dec;32(12): 889-93.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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