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Top tips for hip replacement recovery

Daughter and mother on sofa

Hip surgery is a serious business, and for those who suffer from pain in that area and a lack of movement, it can be a life-transforming operation. The idea of living without severe pain caused by arthritis in one or both hips is something that many find hard to imagine after so many years of living this way. So, while a person might look forward to the benefits, recovering from the surgery is another matter. You can be back on your feet fairly quickly after a hip replacement but there is a recovery period where you will need to build up your strength. In this guide, we offer a number of tips for recovering from a hip replacement, helping you to prepare for the occasion and get back to feeling your best as soon as possible.

Prepare your home in advance

One of the first things on the agenda is to prepare your home for when you return from surgery. Obviously, this is a step that will take place before you even go for your operation. You will need time to build up your strength and balance after the operation so making sure your home is accessible will be important. If you already have stair lifts installed at home, you will be one step ahead of the game. But you can also consider making changes like preparing a downstairs bedroom and reorganizing the kitchen and bathroom so you can easily access everything you need at waist level. Picking up items like extendable grabbers for out of reach items and long-handle shoehorns will also be helpful.

Make sure someone is at hand to help 

Woman helping older lady with bag

You will also want to make sure that you have someone who is at hand to help you out at home during your recovery. Your spouse, close friend or family member will be ideally suited to give you the support you need and help you go about daily tasks. During your recovery, you will need assistance with things like cooking, cleaning, and shopping, as Healthline advises:

“At first, doing your usual daily activities, such as bathing, cooking, and cleaning will be hard to do on your own. That’s why it’s important to have a support system in place to ensure you’re able to get through your day safely.”

Travel will also be an area that someone will need to help you with at first, as you might need to refrain from driving for up to six weeks depending on which hip you had replaced.

Plan for time off work

You should make sure that you have arranged to have plenty of time off work so you can recover correctly. Depending on what you do for a living, you won’t be back in action for some time so speaking to your employer well in advance, or if you are self-employed, making suitable arrangements, will be crucial. It’s important to put your health first and give your body the time it needs to recover.

How much time you will need to take off will depend on how you feel but as the NHS explains: “Everyone recovers differently, but it's often possible to return to light activities or office-based work within around 6 weeks. It may take a few more weeks if your job involves heavy lifting.”

Get your rest 

Older man reading book

Once you have left the hospital and settled in at home, it’s important that you allow yourself to get the rest you need to recover correctly. Hip replacement is no small thing, especially for those who have both hips replaced. Many people will feel restless about sitting around or not being at work but as frustrating as this might be, it’s important you listen to your doctor’s advice and not rush the recovery process. You will not be expected to lie in bed for six weeks, quite the opposite in fact, but being careful and gentle with your body will help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Include gentle exercise with your recovery

Part of your recovery will require you to engage in gentle exercise along with getting your rest. You should not be sitting for long periods of time to avoid becoming stiff and instead be expected to do light activities, such as getting up on your feet and taking regular gentle walks – perhaps around the garden or your local street. You will also be advised to perform some stretches to help your recovery and you can even engage in physiotherapy. All of which will help the blood flow around your body, help with flexibility, and build your muscle strength around the new hip.

Novelist Steve Jackowski, whose wife Karen had hip replacement surgery, has shared with us some tips stemming from her recovery, including the importance of getting up and about: “For the first several days, take it easy. Get up to walk five minutes every hour or so and stay on your meds. Going off the painkillers too soon will set you back. Once you’re ready to move past the walker, use walking sticks instead of the cane as soon as you can.  This will give you symmetric movement which is essential to recovery.”

Steve and his wife also suggest: “Find a good physical therapist with experience in hip replacement rehabilitation. Do the exercises, particularly range of motion. Keep up the exercises even when you think you’re at 100%.”

Home Care Assistance, who provide in-home care for the elderly, advises: “Don’t forget to move around as much as you can while at home. Make sure you do the physical therapy exercises you have set up, go for light walks and remember to rotate your ankles, bend your knees and practice leg raises while sitting up or lying down.”

READ ALSO: The best morning stretches anyone can do

Pay attention to your diet and weight 

Older couple cooking

Another factor to consider in your recovery from hip replacement surgery is your diet and weight. Having a good, balanced and nutritious diet will play a vital role in helping your body to heal. Surgery puts the body under trauma so it will need those healthy proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in order to recover correctly.

The Orthopaedic Riga surgery clinic shares that you must also drink and eat sufficiently during your recovery: “Dehydration and a lack of nutrients can sabotage your recovery from a hip replacement. Make sure you’re eating enough and drinking plenty of water every day. Also, avoid alcohol.”

You should also pay attention to your weight as excess weight can put unwelcome pressure on your new hip and bring a risk of complications. So, this is something to consider before and after your surgery.

READ ALSO: The over 60s guide to vitamins

Enjoy hobbies but avoid vigorous ones at first

During your time on the side-lines when in recovery, enjoying your hobbies will be a welcome distraction and way to pass the time. While this can certainly be beneficial to your mental health you should avoid engaging in any vigorous hobbies and activities at first such as sport, hiking, lifting weights etc. So, take the time perhaps before your surgery and think about some of the hobbies you enjoy that will be perfect for your recovery. If it’s reading, get a few books ready to go. If it’s art and crafts, make sure your supplies are in a place where you can easily access them. Whatever it is, prepare beforehand and have a list of hobbies you can turn to until you are back to normal.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Daniel Hernandez, MD, Director of Medical Affairs and Hispanic Outreach for CreakyJoints, an arthritis support and research organisation, shared with us: “The more comfortable you feel asking questions and working with your doctor after surgery, the better off you'll be.”

Knowledge works wonders. You will want to be equipped with as much information as possible about your situation and what to expect post-surgery, as you will then be able to make the most informed decisions. Paying close attention to your doctor and what the medical team advise is therefore very important.

So, if you have a question, ask it, get the information you need to make your recovery as smooth as possible. That way you can eliminate guesswork and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

How to recover from a hip replacement

  • Prepare your home in advance
  • Make sure someone is at hand to help
  • Plan for time off work
  • Get your rest
  • Include gentle exercise with your recovery
  • Pay attention to your diet and weight
  • Enjoy hobbies but avoid vigorous ones at first
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions

We hope the above tips and advice prove useful for your recovery from hip surgery and that the surgery will bring you the quality-of-life improvements that you have been seeking. Rest up, listen to your doctor, and enjoy the benefits that come from receiving your new hip.

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our news page.


This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.