Every patient asks the same question before having an operation. How long is the recovery period? Actually, the recovery period can vary depending on each operation and patient.
For example, hemiarthroplasty, which refers "half" replacement, takes less operative time, causes less blood loss and fewer complications postoperatively as compared to total hip replacement. However, the functional outcome at one year is better with total hip replacement as compared to hemiarthroplasty. Focusing on the total hip replacement procedure, we prepared an article about the recovery period of it including its duration and also precautions and instructions you need to follow during your recovery.
Hip Replacement Recovery Time in Hospital
It is recommended to stay in the hospital for 3 to 6 days after the total hip replacement surgery. As soon as the operation is done, you will be taken to a recovery room to stay a few hours until you wake up. After you regain consciousness, you will be able to move, but with limitations. Some walking equipment will support you when you need to go to the bathroom or any other place.
Experiencing some pain is quite natural during this time as you see in recovery stories, as well. The surgeon will give you a medication plan in order to ease the pain and prevent other complications such as infections. You may use a pillow to put between your legs to keep your hip in the correct position while you are lying flat on your back. After the surgery, you will have a large dressing on your leg to protect the wound, and the nursing staff will track your condition. You may be allowed to have a drink about an hour after you go to your room, you may also be allowed to have something to eat depending on your condition.
Patients who are under dental treatment need to inform their dentist if they had surgeries like knee replacement surgery or total hip replacement surgery because they may be exposed to infections through the dental equipment. Make sure that you follow carefully the instructions given by the surgeon after the operation in order to decrease the risks of infection.
Total Hip Replacement Surgery Recovery at Home
Basically, the recovery phase at home refers to resting, doing exercises, following the doctor's instructions and having a healthy diet.
After being released from the hospital, you will be still using walking aids. Special hip exercises will be a part of your daily life. After your total hip replacement surgery, you will need to be careful of your movements, especially for the first few months. If you follow the instructions well, you will be able to return to your previous level of activity in time. But, even when you return to your daily activities, you will need to move so carefully for not to dislocate your hip.
Try to make arrangements in your home before the total hip replacement surgery. Adapt your home to make important things easily accessible such as your phone, medications, water and, pillows. You may need a firm armchair for during this process. Too soft and comfortable armchairs are not suitable after total hip replacement surgery.
Rehabilitation is one of the most important parts of the total hip replacement recovery phase. Your surgeon and the physical therapist will show you some exercises to strengthen your muscles. You can practice the exercises both at home and in a rehabilitation place. Early postoperative rehabilitation focuses on regaining the mobility, strength, flexibility and reducing pain as fast as possible. It is found that patients can achieve significant improvements through a targeted rehabilitation schedule following total hip replacement surgery.
After having total hip arthroplasty, you will have bandages on your wound for several weeks. You should always keep your dressing (bandage) on your wound clean and dry. You may change them every day if your surgeon tells you so. Still, you need to be sure to change your dressing if it gets dirty or wet within the same day.
You may feel dryness or itching, but do not use any lotion around the hip area. If an unusual situation occurs, inform your doctor immediately.
Full Recovery Phase of Total Hip Replacement
You can go back to work and your daily activities after 6 weeks. The doctor will tell you when you will be able to travel by plane. Even though you can go back to work in 6 weeks, a full recovery may take between 3 to 6 months. Following the doctor’s instruction can speed up this period and reduce the risks and complications. In the majority of cases, total hip replacement enables people to live more active lives without having hip pain. However, a hip replacement can fail for a variety of reasons. Your doctor may order an x-ray of the joint replacement to look for if any change in the position of the components. When this occurs, your doctor may recommend that you have a revision operation to replace your original prosthesis with new ones.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in April 2019.