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. You may have a pillow between your legs to keep your hip in the correct position. The nursing staff will monitor your condition. 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. Depending on your condition, you may be allowed to have something to eat.
Walking after your hip surgery
The staff will help you to get up and walk about as quickly as possible after surgery. You may be able to walk on the same day as your operation if you've:
- had minimally invasive surgery
- are on an enhanced recovery programme
You'll feel discomfort while walking and exercising. Your legs and feet may be swollen. You may be given an injection into your tummy (abdomen) to help prevent blood clots forming in your legs.
You may also be given a short course of antibiotics to help prevent infection.
A physiotherapist may teach you exercises to help strengthen the hip. They'll 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.
Going home after your hip surgery
You'll usually be in hospital for around 3 to 5 days. This will depend on the progress you make and what type of surgery you have.
The surgeon may suggest an enhanced recovery programme, if you're fit and well. You will start walking on the day of the operation and get discharged in 1 to 3 days.
Recovering at home after your hip surgery
You may feel very tired at first. You've had a major operation and muscles and tissues around your new hip will take time to heal. Follow the advice of the surgical team and call your GP if you have any particular concerns.
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.
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, but this won't last for long.
Contact your GP if you notice redness, fluid or an increase in pain in the new joint after your surgery.
You'll be given an outpatient appointment to check on your progress. This is usually 6 to 12 weeks after your hip replacement.
Returning to normal after your hip surgery
You should be able to stop using your crutches within 4 to 6 weeks and feel back to normal after about 3 months. After this time you should be able to perform all your normal activities.
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 about this.
Driving after your hip surgery
You can usually drive a car after about 6 weeks. Your surgeon will advise you about this. It can be difficult getting in and out of your car at first. It's best to ease yourself in backwards and swing both legs round together.
Returning to work after your hip surgery
This depends on your job, but you can usually return to work 6-12 weeks after your operation.
Sex after your hip surgery
You may have found having sex difficult before the operation because of pain. Having the operation can give your sex life a boost. Your surgeon can advise when it's okay to have sex again.
As long as you're careful, you should be able to have sex after 6 to 8 weeks. Avoid vigorous sex and more extreme positions.
Replacement hip implants
Most hip implants now last for 15 years or more.
Revision surgery takes longer to perform than a first hip replacement. It is more complicated so complication rates are 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 will help you care for your new hip. The advice may vary based on your doctors recommendations:
- avoid bending your hip more than 90 degrees (a right angle) during any activity
- avoid twisting your hip
- do not swivel on the ball of your foot
- when you turn around, take small steps
- do not apply pressure to the wound in the early stages (so try to avoid lying on your side)
- do not cross your legs over each other
- do not 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. This might mean you will need more surgery.
Use any walking aid, such as crutches, a cane or a walker as directed.
Take extra care on the stairs, in the kitchen and bathroom. These are all common places where people can have accidental falls.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE