Making Decisions About Home Care

Recovering From Total Hip Replacement Surgery

by Mae Ferguson

You've had a painful hip condition for years and are getting ready to have a total hip replacement. This is a common procedure and will reduce your pain and allow you to walk comfortably. One key to a successful hip replacement is the therapy you receive when you get home. Here is what you can expect after your surgery to make sure you'll get a long, pain-free life out of your new hip joint.

Strength and Motion are the First Steps

Your physical rehabilitation will initially be focused on getting your new hip accustomed to moving throughout its natural range of motion. The muscles, tendons and ligaments in your hip were affected by the surgery, so they need time to heal and adjust. Your physical therapist will begin by moving your hip through various positions to slowly stretch out the muscles. The muscles will be tense after the surgery and tense muscles make your hip feel stiff. The therapist will show you some exercises that you can do on your own. Some ways to make sure you get the most from these exercises include:

  • Take any pain or anti-inflammatory medication before each session. This will reduce your discomfort so you can get a good workout and not be worried about pain afterwards.
  • Make each movement slowly and only to the point of resistance. Don't overwork your new hip or you may set back your recovery time.
  • Tell your physical therapist or doctor about any changes in the way your hip feels during the exercise.

Be Cautious About Hip Movement

Until all of the tissues in your hip have healed completely, there are some precautions you need to take when moving and exercising your hip. Moving your hip into an extreme angle could result in a dislocation of the hip joint. Some of the ways to prevent this include:

  • Only sit on firm surfaces. Don't sit in a chair that you sink down into.
  • Get up out of a sitting position as straight as possible. Don't lean far forward to get up.
  • Get a special tool to help you pick items up from the floor. Don't bend over and reach down to pick up objects.

Other ways to protect your hip include:

  • Don't cross your legs when sitting or in bed.
  • Sit or stand with your feet pointed forward, not turned in or out.
  • If you must kneel, use the unaffected leg to ease yourself down and get back up.

Putting Weight on Your Hip

You'll be able to use a walker at home to get around. You'll initially be able to put a small amount of weight on the affected leg. As you regain flexibility and strength in your hip, you'll be allowed to place more weight on it.

Your physical therapist and doctor will tell you when you can put full weight on the hip and go without the walker. Until then, a little support from the walker, or a cane, will be needed to maintain your stability.

Follow your therapist's advice regarding how fast and far to walk at one time. Your hip is getting stronger while you walk. Until it has regained its original strength, you could injure the new hip by falling and landing hard on that hip.

For more information about recovering from hip surgery, contact a company like Nick Roselli Occupational Therapy.