Has your doctor recommended hip replacement surgery? You aren’t alone. Over 300,000 hips are replaced annually in the United States.
For patients with constant hip pain, this surgery can reduce pain and improve quality of life. Once you’re healed from surgery, you’ll experience better range of motion. Walking, sitting, and bending over won’t hurt as much.
But first, you must get through the surgery and recovery. Fear of these two things keep many patients from moving forward with the hip replacement.
To help you break through your fears, here is an honest guide of what you can expect.
Hip replacement surgery: what to expect if you’re the patient
Your doctor can explain the technical details of the surgery. Take time to learn about the procedure, and how it is done. Find out how long you can expect to stay in the hospital.
You will need to make plans to have help afterwards.
You will need help.
Hip replacement is a major surgery. You cannot jump back into your normal day-to-day activities immediately following. You will need help with basic tasks like dressing, bathing, moving to the bathroom, and cooking while you recover, especially during the first couple of weeks.
Even once you regain some motion and strength, you need time to recover. You won’t be able to drive for about six weeks, which can make getting to appointments or the store difficult.
If you don’t have a family member or friend who is comfortable being your caregiver while you recover, you have a couple of options.
You can hire a home care assistant to help you. A home care aide or assistant will come to your home and check on you throughout the day. They can help with daily care tasks and keep an eye on your surgery site to check for signs of infection. Another option is to go to a rehabilitation center instead of immediately going back home.
You will be in pain
Your largest joint was just replaced. Pain is normal. It can even get worse a few days after surgery, as your body focuses on healing. The pain may seem to radiate through your whole body, and you may even feel like you got hit by a truck.
Take your pain medication on time. Have someone help you keep track, because it can be hard to remember.
Even if you don’t like taking prescription strength painkillers, you need to for a while. It’s much easier to stay on top of your pain if you’re using your medication as prescribed.
If you are in unbearable pain even with your medication, contact your doctor.
Infections can happen
Whenever you have surgery, infection is a risk. Your doctor will likely give you antibiotics immediately following surgery, to help keep infections away.
You need to check your incision and watch for signs of infection like:
- Site redness
- Foul smell
If you suspect an infection, contact your doctor right away. Don’t worry about making a phone call and having it turn out to be nothing. Your doctor has had false alarms before. They would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to possible infections.
You must move
Moving helps you recover from hip replacement surgery and reduces your risk of blood clots. You will likely be up walking with a walker the first day following surgery.
Make it a point to walk each day. Take it slowly, and gradually increase your distance and time out of bed.
You will meet with a physical therapist before and after surgery. Listen to what they say and do the exercises at home. It can help to take pain medication about half an hour before your appointment, to help minimize the pain.
You may struggle emotionally
Surgery can take a toll on you emotionally as well. While you are recovering you may struggle with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, or regret. You might feel bad that you’re causing all this extra work for someone else.
You may also feel isolated or lonely. While you recover, you won’t be able to get out as much.
It’s important to know that these feelings are normal. It helps to find someone to talk to about them. If you’re really struggling emotionally, make sure to tell your doctor. They can help you.
Remember it takes time to recover. But when you’re healed you will be amazed at what you can do with your new hip.
Know someone contemplating hip replacement surgery? Share this article with them to help them know what to expect.