Recovering from the operation
Recovery times can vary depending on the individual and type of surgery carried out. It’s important to follow the advice the hospital gives you on looking after your hip.
After the operation, you’ll be lying flat on your back and may have a pillow between your legs to keep your hip in the correct position. The nursing staff will monitor your condition and you’ll have a large dressing on your leg to protect the wound.
You may be allowed to have a drink about an hour after you return to the ward and, depending on your condition, you may be allowed to have something to eat.
Read more about what happens after an operation.
How soon will I be up and about?
The staff will help you to get up and walk about as quickly as possible after surgery. If you’ve had minimally invasive surgery or are on an enhanced recovery programme, you may be able to walk on the same day as your operation.
Initially, you’ll feel discomfort while walking and exercising, and your legs and feet may be swollen. You may be given an injection into your abdomen to help prevent blood clots forming in your legs, and possibly a short course of antibiotics to help prevent infection.
A physiotherapist may teach you exercises to help strengthen the hip and explain what should and shouldn’t be done after the operation. They’ll teach you how to bend and sit to avoid damaging your new hip.Postoperative hip care An expert explains how a physiotherapist will help to get your hip moving again after surgery.
You’ll usually be in hospital for around three to five days, depending on the progress you make and what type of surgery you have.
If you’re generally fit and well, the surgeon may suggest an enhanced recovery programme, where you start walking on the day of the operation and are discharged within one to three days.
Read more information about getting back to normal after an operation.
Recovering at home
Don’t be surprised if you feel very tired at first. You’ve had a major operation and muscles and tissues surrounding your new hip will take time to heal. Follow the advice of the surgical team and call your GP if you have any particular worries or queries.
You may be eligible for home help and there may be aids that can help you. You may want to arrange to have someone to help you for a week or so.
The exercises your physiotherapist gives you are an important part of your recovery. It’s essential you continue with them once you’re at home. Your rehabilitation will be monitored by a physiotherapist.
How soon will the pain go away?
The pain you may have experienced before the operation should go immediately. You can expect to feel some pain as a result of the operation itself, but this won’t last for long.
Is there anything I should look out for or worry about?
After hip replacement surgery, contact your GP if you notice redness, fluid or an increase in pain in the new joint.
Will I have to go back to hospital?
You’ll be given an outpatient appointment to check on your progress, usually six to 12 weeks after your hip replacement.
How long will it be before I feel back to normal?
There are many factors that can affect how quickly you get back to normal, such as:
- your age
- your general fitness
- the condition of your joints and muscles
- the job or activities you do
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.
It’s best to avoid extreme movements or sports where there’s a risk of falling, such as skiing or riding. Your doctor or a physiotherapist can advise you more about returning to normal activities.
When can I drive again?
You can usually drive a car after about six weeks, subject to advice from your surgeon. It can be tricky getting in and out of your car at first. It’s best to ease yourself in backwards and swing both legs round together.
When can I go back to work?
This depends on your job, but you can usually return to work 6-12 weeks after your operation.
How will it affect my sex life?
If you were finding sex difficult before because of pain, you may find that having the operation gives your sex life a boost. Your surgeon can advise when it’s OK to have sex again.
As long as you’re careful, you should be able to have sex after six to eight weeks. Avoid vigorous sex and more extreme positions.
Will I need another new hip?
Nowadays, most hip implants last for 15 years or more. If you’re older, your new hip may last your lifetime. If you’re younger, you may need another new hip at some point.
Revision surgery is more complicated and time-consuming for the surgeon to perform than a first hip replacement and complication rates are usually higher.
It can’t be performed in every patient, but most people who can have it report success for 10 years or more.
Looking after your new hip
With care, your new hip should last well. The following advice may be given by the hospital to help you care for your new hip. However, the advice may vary based on your doctors recommendations:
- avoid bending your hip more than 90° (a right angle) during any activity
- avoid twisting your hip
- don’t swivel on the ball of your foot
- when you turn around, take small steps
- don’t apply pressure to the wound in the early stages (so try to avoid lying on your side)
- don’t cross your legs over each other
- don’t force the hip or do anything that makes your hip feel uncomfortable
- avoid low chairs and toilet seats (raised toilet seats are available)
You’ll need to be extra careful to avoid falls in the first few weeks after surgery as this could damage your hip, meaning you may require more surgery.
Use any walking aid, such as crutches, a cane or a walker as directed.
Take extra care on the stairs and in the kitchen and bathroom as these are all common places where people can have accidental falls.