Complete guide to hip replacement recovery
Hip replacement is a major surgery. Although it is very routine nowadays, it is extremely important that you are ready and prepare yourself for the surgery and the recovery period, which depends on the surgeon and type of implant used. There may or may not be any restrictions on movement. It is a relatively simple procedure to recover from, but at the same time you need to spend some time learning how to walk and use your hip again. Some patients will experience pain around the scar site which is completely normal.
Recovery time following hip replacement surgery depends on how well you prepare beforehand. At MSK doctors we use our Biological Recovery Protocol to help enable our patients to recover more quickly. This includes nutritional supplements and various techniques that help you get as healthy as possible before surgery. We will discuss this in length with you in your pre-op appointments.
Preparing for your hip replacement surgery
It is important for you to get as much information as possible from the team and your surgeon before your hip replacement.
Before surgery, we recommend that you prepare your home, especially if you live alone. Stock up your cupboards and make sure that your daily groceries and household items are easily accessible. Although after surgery you will still be able to bend and move around, in the first few days of recovery it’s advisable to take precautions to prevent any complications.
In order to prepare yourself physically for surgery, we focus heavily on nutrition, and we have specific nutritional plans for you to use before surgery to help you reach optimum health. Studies show that using specific supplements and proteins can really help you recover more quickly following surgery.
You should have an emergency contact who will be available to help after surgery. Although it is extremely unlikely, it’s always good to have someone there just in case.
It is important that you stay active while preparing for your surgery. Although the hip joint will be painful and it may be difficult for you to walk around, you should still try to be as active as possible. Swimming, and walking around in the water helps to loosen the hip joint and take the weight off the body while keeping the muscles active. Your recovery will be easier and quicker if you have been active prior to surgery.
What to expect after your hip replacement surgery
While some surgeons don’t recommend bending and stretching after surgery, at MSK doctors we do things very differently. We use the SPAIRE technique and specialist implants, which means that you won’t have any restrictions on movement at all. You will be able to walk, twist, bend your hips and go anywhere you like.
Although some patients may find it slightly more comfortable to lie on their back, there is absolutely no problem with lying on your side, especially on the side of your operation. Some people find putting a pillow between the legs helps their hip muscles relax and allows them to rest a bit better.
The SPAIRE technique and the implants we use mean you will have a full range of motion with no need to take special precautions. There have been no dislocations with our SPAIRE patients; we are 100% confident, and so should you be.
How soon can you leave hospital after a hip replacement?
Typically following a hip replacement patients usually stay in hospital between two to three days, depending on how they recover and the surgical technique used.
At MSK doctors we have established a specialist pathway that starts before the surgery, and a specific medication pathway that negates a lot of heavy-duty painkillers and helps with pain management. The specialist implant and surgical technique mean that you can walk on your hip immediately and 100% of our patients go home within 24 hours.
Typically the surgery will start at 2 pm and last approximately 2 hours. You’ll return to the ward ready to start walking. Your chef-prepared dinner will be served at approximately 6 pm and then you will spend the night in your luxury hospital room.
In the morning you will be able to get out of bed, sit in a chair and use the toilet as normal. There are no restrictions from the word go, you will be able to walk up and down stairs as advised by our team of physiotherapists.
Our chauffeur will pick you up the following morning after surgery to take you home, you should be home before 2 pm.
This pathway has been tried and tested on over 200 patients and has a 100% success rate.
Crutches after THR?
With the SPAIRE technique, you can carry on with life as normal, although we suggest that you have someone nearby to help. Usually, most patients feel no pain following surgery and are very happy with the outcome. Initially, you may want to use crutches to help you balance when testing out your new hip, but there is no medical or surgical reason why you have to use the crutches, although you may find them useful for the first couple of weeks.
It varies from person to person, some patients use crutches for two weeks, and some may find they need them for a bit longer. Certainly, by week four we would highly encourage patients not to use crutches at all.
How long does it take to fully recover from a hip replacement?
After two weeks your wound will have healed and you can have a bath. By week four, some of our younger patients have returned to running and jogging, however, we find that between 6 to 8 weeks is the average time for recovery. Certainly, by three months, most patients have almost forgotten they have had a hip replacement.
Return to regular activities and sports when you feel comfortable, there is no reason why you cannot start doing sports even from day one if you feel up to it. Your body needs to settle down and everyone is slightly different in their recovery time. But typically speaking the first six weeks is rehabilitation although, with our special technique, that is reduced to four weeks.
When can you drive after the total hip replacement?
For many of us driving is a very important part of our life. If you have your left hip replaced and drive an automatic car there is no reason why you cannot drive from day one. We would however advise that you not drive for at least 48 hours until the anaesthetic drugs have cleared from your system. From the point of view of stability and motion of the hip, we are more than happy for our patients to start driving from day two onwards in an automatic car.
However, for the right hip, we would suggest that patients wait for six weeks before they resume driving. The simple reason is that because the old hip has been arthritic for so long the muscle coordination will be poor, as it has not been used properly for a while.
Studies show that hip muscle coordination will return and the reaction time with resume after about 6 weeks. Therefore, we would not suggest waiting at least six weeks if you have had a right hip replacement, or drive a manual car.