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Recovery & Rehabilitation

Gain a better understanding of what is involved in recovery and rehabilitation.

Hip Replacement Rehabilitation & Recovery

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From Hospital to Home

When your surgery is complete, it’s time to focus on your recovery and the rehabilitation you’ll need to get back to your normal activities. Everyone is different—be sure to listen to your body and ask your doctor whenever you’re in doubt.

Your hip rehabilitation begins right after surgery as ordered by your surgeon.

Your physical therapist will instruct you to:

  • Begin isometric exercises (tightening muscles without moving the joint) a number of times per day while you are still in bed
  • Move your ankle and other joints
  • Learn the safest methods for getting in and out of bed or a chair, and on and off the toilet
  • Understand the do’s and don’ts of joint replacement recovery
  • Walking and exercise will quickly follow
  • The physical therapist will check your progress daily and will keep your surgeon informed

Hospital Stay

Following an Anterior Approach hip replacement surgery, the typical hospital stay is a few days.1 During that time, your hip rehabilitation will begin as ordered by your surgeon. A physical therapist may instruct you to:

  • Begin isometric exercises (tighten muscles without moving the joint) a number of times per day while you are still in bed
  • Move your ankle and other joints
  • Understand the do’s and don’ts of joint replacement recovery

Depending on your individual recovery, your physical therapist will help teach you how to dress, how to start walking with the help of a walker or crutches and how to get out of bed without help. You will continue to work to strengthen yourself in preparation for your return home.

The hospital stay for hip replacement varies and full recovery typically takes 3 to 6 months. To protect your hip, you will often be asked not to sit past a 90-degree angle after surgery. If this is the case, you will be provided the necessary tools to assist during this process.

It is important that you follow your doctor’s directions and proper positioning techniques throughout your rehabilitation. By the time you leave the hospital, you should be progressing well in regaining your mobility and stability. If your sutures or clips have to be removed, you will be advised about who will remove them and where this will be done. It is not uncommon to still experience some pain.

Just before being discharged, you will receive instructions for your at-home recovery. You will likely need assistance with your daily activities for several days to a few weeks following your hip replacement surgery. The doctor will help you decide the best place to continue recovering after you leave the hospital. This may be at home or in a rehabilitation center. A rehab center is similar to a hospital—patients stay there day and night, and are cared for by doctors, nurses, and therapists until they become well enough to go home.

Rehabilitation and Recovery FAQs

Here are some common questions people have about hip replacement rehabilitation and recovery.

Am I a candidate for Anterior Approach hip replacement surgery?

Only your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to decide if you are a candidate for the Anterior Approach hip replacement surgery

How often do serious complications occur in hip replacement?

Risks associated with hip replacement may include:

  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Loosening
  • Change in leg length

According to OrthoInfo, (www.orthoinfo.aaos.org) serious complications, such as joint infection, occur in less than 2% of patients.2  Major medical complications, such as heart attack or stroke, occur even less frequently. However, chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications. Although uncommon, when these complications occur they can prolong or limit full recovery.2

What is the difference between the Anterior Approach to hip replacement surgery and the traditional hip replacement surgery?

The main difference is that unlike a traditional approach where the muscles are cut, the Anterior Approach allows the surgeon to work around the muscles keeping them intact. By keeping the muscles intact, the Anterior Approach may allow for less pain, faster recovery, quicker stability and fewer post-operative restrictions.3

Is the Anterior Approach procedure an “experimental” procedure?

No, the Anterior Approach procedure has been performed in the United States for 20 years. It was originally pioneered in the 1940’s by Robert Judet. The technique remained in Europe for several decades, but was brought to the United States by Dr. Joel Matta in 1996.4

Follow Your Surgeon's Advice

After undergoing hip replacement surgery, it is important you have realistic expectations about the types of activities you may do. Driving, sexual activity, walking, and other everyday activities will all be impacted in some way.

Rehabilitation after your surgery plays an extremely important role in making your hip replacement a success. The goals of rehabilitation are to:

  • Improve your muscle strength
  • Increase the movement in your hip joint
  • Protect your new hip joint
  • Help you resume most of your normal activities

Rehabilitation and recovery takes time and commitment. Each person is different and the length of recovery is dependent on your particular situation, overall health and your rehabilitation. Many people achieve recovery in 3-6 months. When your surgeon feels you are ready, you should be able to resume some, if not most, of your normal daily activities.

After hip replacement surgery you must inform any doctors, including dentists, treating you that you have undergone hip replacement surgery. Antibiotics may be prescribed before a procedure to help avoid infection. Keep in mind: Most people who undergo hip replacement surgery enjoy life with less joint pain. However, it's important to avoid high-impact activities that may damage your new joint.
 

 

References

1. Martin CT, et al, A Comparison of Hospital Length of Stay and Short-term Morbidity Between the Anterior and the Posterior Approaches to Total Hip Arthroplasty, The Journal of Arthroplasty 28 (2013)
2. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/joint-replacement-infection/ (accessed September 20, 2019)
3. Barrett WP, et al, Prospective Randomized Study of Direct Anteiro vs Postero-Lateral Approach for Total Hip Arthroplasty, The Journal of Arthroplasty (2013)
4. https://www.thesteadmanclinic.com/news/dr-matta-and-anterior-approach (accessed September 20, 2019)

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. The performance of hip replacements depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. If you have conditions that limit rehabilitation you should not have this surgery. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can tell you if hip replacement is right for you.

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