Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 11, 2022
Day of Surgery
Ready for your new hip joint? Check in to the hospital with your bags packed to stay 2-3 days. The operation should take several hours. Afterward, you'll spend time in a recovery room as you wake up from anesthesia. Once you're alert, you'll be moved to your hospital room.
You'll probably feel some pain, but you'll get medicine to help. You'll likely be taking short, shallow breaths at first because of the anesthesia and medicine, and also because you're in bed. But it's important to cough and breathe in deep to clear your lungs. You may have a drainage tube for blood that collects around your hip. Your doctor may give you medicine called blood thinners to prevent clots.
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 it. 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
It should be easier to get around 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 center 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 do the exercises you learned at the hospital. You may get visits from a home health nurse or a physical therapist.
If you have stitches that don't dissolve, it's time to have them removed. Your doctor might suggest you wait another 1-2 days before you shower or get the wound site wet. You should hurt much less now and may no longer need pain medication.
You should be able to do most of your normal light activities. 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.
At this point, you should start to feel 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.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
(1) RNHRD NHS Trust / The Image Bank
(2) iStock / 360
(3) Brand X Pictures
(5) iStock / 360
(6) iStock / 360
(7) iStock / 360
(8) Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee – Blend Images
(9) Pali Rao / E+
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Total Hip Replacement."
Claudette Lajam, MD, orthopedic surgeon, NYU Langone Medical Center; assistant professor of orthopedics, Hospital for Joint Diseases-New York University School of Medicine.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Questions and Answers About Hip Replacement."
Charles Nelson, MD, chief, joint replacement service, Penn Orthopaedics; associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
UCLA Orthopedic Surgery: "Planning for Your Hip Replacement Surgery."
University of California San Francisco: "Recovering from Hip Replacement Surgery."