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Slideshow: Hip Surgery Recovery Timeline

Day of Surgery

Ready for your new hip joint? You'll check in to the hospital with your bags packed to stay 2-3 days. Surgery should take several hours. Afterward, you'll spend time in a recovery room as you wake up from anesthesia. When you're awake, you'll be moved to your hospital room.

After Surgery

After you wake you'll probably feel some pain, but you'll get medicine to help. You'll likely be taking short, shallow breaths because of the anesthesia and medicine, and also because you’re in bed. But it's important to cough and take deep breaths to clear your lungs.

Day After Surgery

It's time to get that new hip joint moving. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen the muscles around your hip. You will probably sit up on the edge of the bed, stand, and start walking. If your surgery was early in the day and went well, there's a chance you may even start physical therapy the afternoon of your operation.

1-2 Days After

You'll do more exercises and walk with the help of crutches or a walker. As you hurt less, you'll likely move from IV pain medicine to pills. You should be able to eat normal foods instead of the liquid-only diet you had the first day.

2-3 Days After

Getting around should be easier now. If you're doing well, it's time to go home. Make sure you have help lined up, like rides, shopping, and other errands. You won't be able to drive for 3-6 weeks. If you need more help, you might check into a rehab facility for a few days or have plans for a home health aide to come to your house.

4+ Days After

Take care of the area around your incision. Don't get it wet, and skip creams, lotions, and ointments. You can ease pain by using an icepack on the area for 10-15 minutes at a time.  Keep the joint moving, and keep doing the exercises you learned at the hospital. You may get visits from a home health nurse or a physical therapist.

10-14 Days

If you have stitches that don't dissolve, it's time to have them removed. Your doctor might suggest you wait another day or 2 before showering or getting the wound site wet. You should be in much less pain now and may no longer need any pain medication.

3-6 Weeks

You should be able to do most normal light activities again. But you may still have a little bit of discomfort or soreness afterward, especially by the end of the day. Six weeks after surgery you should be able to drive again.

10-12 weeks

At this point, you should start feeling like yourself again. Most of your pain is likely gone. Your swelling should have eased. Moving will be easier, and you can probably do most of your regular day-to-day activities, whether it’s gardening, dancing, or taking long walks. You and your new hip will continue to have follow-up visits with your doctor for the first year after surgery.

Knee & Hip Replacement for OA: The Facts

Reviewed by James Kercher, MD on April 14, 2014

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