Hip replacement, otherwise known as hip arthroplasty, involves the removal of damaged bone and cartilage from the hip joint, and the insertion of artificial components (prosthesis). It is a very common surgery with good outcomes overall, particularly when the patient is supported well in their rehabilitation.
In this article, Rachel Allen, chartered physiotherapist at Mid West Physiotherapy, answers the most common questions we receive from our physiotherapy patients about hip replacement surgery. Hopefully these answers will ease any concerns you may have and set you on the right path for recovery.
How long will I be in hospital for?
You can expect to be in hospital for 3-4 days depending on your recovery, type of surgery, and consultant. You will be sent home on 2 crutches.
When will I need to see a physio?
You can expect to meet a physiotherapist while in hospital following a hip replacement; they will get you up and moving, and give you exercises to do at home. Once you have settled in back at home, ongoing physiotherapy can really help. On the first visit to a private physiotherapy clinic like ours, you can expect some questions about how you are feeling, the surgery experience, and what you are aiming to get back doing (your recovery goals). Your physiotherapist will create a personalised rehab and exercise programme to help wean you off crutches and strengthen your legs again. Exercise and strength are key to a successful hip replacement surgery and we are here to guide you along the way, and get you back doing what you love best!
What pain levels should I expect?
It is normal to feel pain after the surgery. You will be given pain medication to take initially, as it is important to keep walking and moving after the surgery. Some people experience pain while recovering – not to worry, usually the amount of pain you are in does not mean you are not recovering or making progress. Any pain you experience should decrease steadily as you recover. However, if you are concerned about pain, or are experiencing new swelling, heat, discharge from the wound site etc., ensure to contact your doctor.
How long will I have crutches?
How long you are on crutches will depend on who does your surgery. Physiotherapy will focus on helping you walk well with 2 crutches, then gradually use 1 crutch and eventually come off the crutches all together.
Which side do I use the crutch on?
When you are allowed to start using 1 crutch, you will use it on the opposite side of your surgery. So if you had a left hip replacement, you will walk with the crutch in your right arm.
Do I need to change my sleep position?
If you are a side sleeper, you will need to sleep on the opposite side with a pillow between your knees at the start.
What type of rehab exercises will I get?
You will be given starter exercises by the hospital physiotherapist after your surgery. Once home, we can help you to progress the exercises.
How often do I need to do my rehab exercises?
You need to do rehab exercises every day, as directed by your physiotherapist.
What activities/movements should I avoid during my recovery?
During recovery you will need to follow specific instructions from your surgeon. These may include not bending forward to tie your shoe, crossing your legs when sitting, or twisting on your leg.
Will I need mobility aids?
You will need two crutches to walk with after surgery. Other mobility aids are available should you encounter difficulties; we can guide you on this.
How long does it take to walk normally?
People get back walking normally typically between 6-12 weeks after surgery. The most important thing is to get your strength back and walk well before ditching the crutches!
When can I return to driving?
When you can return driving after a hip replacement will depend on clearance from your consultant.
When can I return to activity (e.g. golf/tennis/running)?
This will depend on clearance from the consultant. Don’t fear, a lot of people get back to doing the things they love after surgery – we have helped many people get back to walking, swimming, golf, and even tennis after a hip replacement! Exercise and strength is a key to a successful hip replacement surgery and we are here to guide you along the way, and get you back doing what you love best!
Where can I get more information?
The HSE have a good section on their website covering hip replacement topics; click here to read.
Can I book an appointment with you?
Yes! If you would like us to help you prepare for or recover from hip replacement surgery, you can book an appointment with us online, or your can contact our Reception by ringing 061-201444 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information in this article is general advice; for specific advice, please contact your doctor or physiotherapist.