Hip replacement surgery is a major orthopaedic procedure that involves the replacement of a damaged hip joint with an artificial joint. Recovery time varies depending on the extent of the surgery, the patient's age and overall health before the surgery.
Recovering from hip replacement surgery takes patience and dedication. Here is a broad timeline of the recovery process, and what you can do at every stage to support your body’s healing process.
Before hip replacement surgery, you will still be in pain, and suffer from limited mobility. You will have pre-operative appointments with your doctor, who will discuss the operation and recovery process with you in detail. They might suggest that you quit smoking if you are a smoker, and they might make changes to your medication schedule if you are on chronic medication.
Your care team will incorporate non-surgical treatments into your recovery plan, some of which you have probably already tried in an effort to manage your joint pain. You can prepare your body for optimal recovery after surgery by following a healthy diet and incorporating movement and exercise into your daily routine where possible.
You can also prepare your living space by organising your daily tasks so that they are easily accessible and removing any tripping hazards from the walking areas. You can also acquire assistive devices that will be useful in the first few months after the surgery. Crutches or a walker can be useful to keep strain off of your leg. A shower stool can prevent slipping on the wet floor and a raised toilet seat can minimize the movement and strain of the joint while sitting down. A comfortable bed to sleep in with many pillows for raising your leg will also be integral to recovery.
Arranging for additional help after the surgery, such as transport to and from the hospital and cleaning services can be very helpful in reducing your stress and keeping strain off of your joint.
In The Days After Surgery
You should be able to take a few steps with an assistive device, such as a walker or crutches, within a day or two after surgery. You will begin physical therapy within 24 hours of the surgery and your physical therapist will help you practice safe movement techniques and exercises to promote circulation and prevent blood clots. They will also point out movements and activities to avoid.
You may begin to bear weight on the affected leg with the assistance of a physical therapist within the first few days after surgery. You will continue to use a walker or crutches for support for a few weeks.
Six Weeks After Surgery
You will likely transition from a walker to a cane and begin to work on improving your strength, flexibility, and range of motion through physical therapy around six weeks after surgery. You may be able to walk short distances without assistance but should avoid activities that put excessive stress on the hip joint. Your incision will also probably be healed by this point.
Six Months After Surgery
You will continue to progress in physical therapy and work on regaining your balance, coordination, and endurance in the first few months after surgery. By six months, you should be able to walk without a cane or other assistive device, although you may experience some stiffness or discomfort.
It is important to continue doing your physical therapy exercises and to maintain a healthy diet as to not strain the hip joint with excessive weight gain.
One Year After Surgery
It may take up to a year to fully recover and achieve maximum strength and mobility after your hip replacement. By that time you should be able to walk normally and resume most of your usual activities, including low-impact exercise, recreational sports, and light work.
Managing Expectations For Hip Replacement Surgery
Managing expectations for hip replacement surgery is an essential part of preparing for the procedure and setting realistic goals for recovery. Hip replacement surgery is typically performed to relieve pain and improve mobility in patients with severe arthritis or other degenerative hip conditions. While the surgery can be highly effective in achieving these goals, it may not completely restore your hip to its pre-injury state.
Your surgeon can provide you with information on the expected outcomes of the surgery, including the level of pain relief, improvement in mobility, and the timeline for recovery. Be sure to ask any questions you may have and express any concerns or expectations you may have.
Following your surgeon's instructions for post-operative care, including physical therapy, medication management, and lifestyle modifications, can help maximize your recovery and achieve the best possible outcome.
Recovery from hip replacement surgery can take several weeks to months, and progress may be slower than you expect. Having realistic recovery goals and celebrating small achievements along the way can help you stay motivated and focused on your long-term recovery.
Recovering from hip replacement surgery can be challenging, and it's essential to be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to heal. Listen to your body, rest when you need to, and don't push yourself too hard too soon.
When Will I Walk Again After Hip Replacement Surgery?
Although you will be on your feet again shortly after surgery, you will have to take it slow and make use of assistive devices to get around for a few weeks to months after surgery. You should be able to walk normally without assistance by a year after surgery.
It is important to manage your expectations regarding what surgery can achieve. Although you will have increased mobility and decreased pain once your damaged joint is repaired, it might never be as mobile as it was before it was damaged. It is important to rest often and be kind to yourself during the recovery process and to consult with your doctor should you have any questions about recovery.