If you are considering a hip replacement, this article covers 5 tips to a successful hip replacement recovery.
Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend a hip replacement surgery, or hip arthroplasty, if you experience pain in the hip that interferes with your daily life and does not improve with nonsurgical treatments.
Common causes of hip replacement surgery
There are several causes of hip pain that may require surgery. Some of the most common reasons for hip replacement surgery include:
- Osteoarthritis: Also referred to as “wear-and-tear” arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This type of arthritis is caused by increased inflammation that damages joints.
- Osteonecrosis: This occurs when a lack of blood flow to the hip joint causes bone weakness and deterioration.
In certain cases, your orthopedic surgeon will perform a hip replacement surgery to remove damaged cartilage and/or bone. The surgeon will then replace it with an artificial joint made of metal, ceramic, or very hard plastic.
After surgery, most patients will start to see improvements in hip pain and function within 3 months. These improvements typically continue during the first year after surgery.
5 tips to a successful hip replacement recovery
Hip replacement surgery is one of the most common and most successful operations in medicine. By taking proactive steps, you can improve your recovery even more. Below are 5 ways to maximize your recovery after a hip replacement.
Prevent blood clots by moving early and regularly.
- Hip replacement surgery temporarily increases your risk of blood clots in the legs. To prevent this complication, your orthopedic care team will encourage you to walk with assistance soon after your surgery. You can also wear compression socks and/or take blood thinning medications but only if approved by your surgeon.
Take steps to ensure a smooth home recovery.
- Before your surgery, plan to make any necessary modifications to your home to make it easier to navigate and reduce the likelihood of reinjury. These may include extra handrails, a shower bench or chair, and a raised toilet seat.
Resume exercise as soon as recommended by your surgeon.
- Physical therapy and regular exercise are crucial to a successful recovery from hip replacement surgery. Your orthopedic care team will help you create a plan to gradually increase your physical activity after surgery. This typically begins with slow increases in walking paired with exercises to improve your hip mobility and strength.
Prevent infection by recognizing the signs.
- Although rare, hip replacement infection may occur in some patients. Be on the lookout for signs of infection, which may include a high fever, chills, increased redness, tenderness or swelling of the hip wound, drainage from the wound, and increased hip pain.
Maintain a healthy diet with plenty of iron.
- To promote tissue healing and strength, be sure to get plenty of fluids and eat a balanced diet of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy iron-rich foods such as beans and spinach. Your orthopedic surgeon may also recommend an iron supplement.
Hip replacement or hip arthroplasty is a safe and effective procedure that can alleviate joint pain, increase mobility, and allow patients to return to normal activity levels. These 5 tips will help you get the most out of your recovery.