Living with hip arthritis, avascular necrosis, or any other condition that impacts the function of your hip means reduced mobility, greater difficulty in your day-to-day life, and for many people, less independence. When hip pain persists beyond medications, physical therapy, and other standard care, hip replacement surgery offers a second chance for a strong and functional joint.
Our team of board-certified orthopedic surgeons at LA Orthopaedic Specialists determines whether you’re a candidate for hip replacement surgery based on your condition, hip function, prior treatments, and overall medical history. At our office in Downtown Los Angeles, California, they guide you through the entire process from initial examinations and preparation to recovery. The team also provides hip replacement revision surgery to correct, repair, or replace an artificial hip you got in the past.
Over 450,000 people get hip replacements each year in the United States, and that figure is growing as the population gets older. If you’re gearing up for a hip replacement or are in recovery, follow these strategies to take care of your new hip joint.
Get moving right away
Your first instinct after surgery may be to rest and allow your body to heal. This isn’t the case with joint replacements, which dictate that you should start walking within a day or two of the surgery. You’ll probably need to use a walker or a pair of crutches to be mobile so soon, and you’ll start with short spurts of movement at first. However, with physical therapy starting immediately, your skills will improve over time.
Once you return home after hip replacement, you should try not to sit in one place for longer than 45 minutes. If you must sit in place for an extended period of time, take breaks every 45 minutes to get up and walk around.
Try not to place your full weight on your new hip right away. Crutches or a walker can take some of the pressure off. Your physical therapist gives you exercises to perform at home so you can strengthen the joint, and they’ll tell you when it’s okay to place weight on your hip without support.
Don’t neglect wound care
For some time after surgery, you’ll have to take care of the incision. Our team advises you on when to come in to have the stitches or staples removed, but the majority of the wound care is your own responsibility at home. Be sure to:
- Change your dressings if they get wet or dirty
- Wash your hands before tending to your wound
- Check the wound for signs of infection, like swelling or pus
- Gently clean the wound with saline and fresh gauze, wiping from one end to the other
- Redress your wound according to our team’s instructions
- Don’t scrub or soak your wound
You can expect the wound to heal in roughly six weeks. After that, just continue physical therapy and gradually increasing your activity level.
As you adjust to using your new hip, you’re at risk for falls and accidents that could compromise the hip replacement. You’ll need to make sure your home is accessible, and you’ll need assistance from a loved one for at least the first week or two of recovery.
As you heal and rehabilitate your hip, our team recommends that you:
- Remove loose rugs and other trip hazards around the house
- Place a slip-proof mat in your shower
- Install handrails if you need them
- Avoid walking around with your hands full
- Make sure all the items you need are within your reach: not up high or on the ground
- Take medications as prescribed
- Live on the ground floor for a while (you might need to set up a bed downstairs)
- Wear compression stockings according to the team’s instructions
Your care team helps you ease back into daily activities at a safe pace. While you’ll be able to return to low-impact activities like hiking, gardening, and golfing, you’ll have to stay away from contact sports and others with a high risk of injury, like skiing and snowboarding.
If you have further questions about hip replacement recovery and rehabilitation, don’t hesitate to call LA Orthopaedic Specialists or book online at your earliest convenience.