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Questions and Answers about Hip Replacement

What Can Be Expected Immediately after Surgery?

Patients are allowed only limited movement immediately after hip replacement surgery. When the patient is in bed, the hip usually is braced with pillows or a special device that holds the hip in the correct position. The patient may receive fluids through an intravenous tube to replace fluids lost during surgery. There also may be a tube located near the incision to drain fluid and a tube (catheter) may be used to drain urine until the patient is able to use the bathroom. The doctor will prescribe medicine for pain or discomfort.

How Long Are Recovery and Rehabilitation?

On the day after surgery or sometimes on the day of surgery, therapists will teach the patient exercises that will improve recovery. A respiratory therapist may ask the patient to breathe deeply, cough, or blow into a simple device that measures lung capacity. These exercises reduce the collection of fluid in the lungs after surgery.

A physical therapist may teach the patient exercises, such as contracting and relaxing certain muscles, that can strengthen the hip. Because the new, artificial hip has a more limited range of movement than an undiseased hip, the physical therapist also will teach the patient proper techniques for simple activities of daily living, such as bending and sitting, to prevent injury to the new hip. As early as 1 to 2 days after surgery, a patient may be able to sit on the edge of the bed, stand, and even walk with assistance.

Usually, people do not spend more than 10 days in the hospital after hip replacement surgery. Full recovery from the surgery takes about 3 to 6 months, depending on the type of surgery, the overall health of the patient, and the success of rehabilitation.

 

How to Prepare for Surgery and Recovery

People can do many things before and after they have surgery to make everyday tasks easier and help speed their recovery.

Before Surgery

Learn what to expect before, during, and after surgery. Request information written for patients from the doctor or contact one of the organizations listed near the end of this fact sheet.

Arrange for someone to help you around the house for a week or two after coming home from the hospital.

Arrange for transportation to and from the hospital.

Set up a "recovery station" at home. Place the television remote control, radio, telephone, medicine, tissues, waste basket, and pitcher and glass next to the spot where you will spend the most time while you recover.

Place items you use every day at arm level to avoid reaching up or bending down.

Stock up on kitchen staples and prepare food in advance, such as frozen casseroles or soups that can be reheated and served easily.

After Surgery

Follow the doctor's instructions.

Work with a physical therapist or other health care professional to rehabilitate your hip.

Wear an apron for carrying things around the house. This leaves hands and arms free for balance or to use crutches.

Use a long-handled "reacher" to turn on lights or grab things that are beyond arm's length. Hospital personnel may provide one of these or suggest where to buy one.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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