Although total hip replacement surgeries have a high rate of success, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of having a successful recovery.
Here are 5 tips for a successful total hip replacement recovery
Make exercise a part of your routine
Whether you are awaiting a hip replacement or you’ve already had one, exercise should be a consistent part of your life. There are two major tissues involved in joints – bone and muscle. So if you’re getting a hip replaced, you’ll be replacing parts of the bone in the hip joint. Your muscles will still be there around the hip and they are designed to support that joint. So no matter what part of the hip replacement journey you are on, building strength and consistently exercising will help the muscles stay strong and ready to keep you moving.
Seeking help from a physiotherapist is a great way to get a tailored exercise program designed for you. Even if you are not keen on structured exercise, a physio can assist you to add certain movements into your daily activities or advise you on what you can do to strengthen your hips without feeling like you’re on a strict program.
Check out our article on what you can do at home to strengthen your hip!
Manage your weight
For joint replacement surgeries in general, managing weight is an important part of a successful recovery. In particular, our hips and knees are our major weight-bearing joints, so are taking most of the load. If you are overweight, obese or have a high BMI, having a closer look at your diet and physical activity levels is a great start to ensure you have the best chance of a successful recovery from a hip replacement.
Straight after a hip replacement, you’re likely going to need a gait aid to walk at first. Often, this comes in the form of crutches. Carrying extra weight through crutches is not ideal for other parts of your body, particularly your shoulders & wrists, so weight management is important here.
If you’re not sure where to start in terms of managing your weight, seek the help of your GP or get some advice from a dietician to assist with your diet. A physiotherapist can assist you with your physical activity levels.
Prepare your home environment
If you have a hip replacement coming up, it’s helpful to prepare your home environment for when you return from hospital. A fall, slip or trip is the last thing you need following a major surgery. Setting up the home for a safe return is the best way to prevent any complications. Remember that you are likely to return home on some heavy pain killers, so you might be a bit drowsy and you might still be on crutches.
Think about where your bedroom is in relation to the bathroom and ensure the path between bed and bathroom is unobstructed and safe. Remove any rugs that are potential slip or trip hazards.
Check the path to the kitchen and where possible, make any necessary changes to the location of commonly needed items to make it easier to access, like the kettle or the telephone. These are likely to be just temporary changes whilst you are recovering from your hip surgery, so don’t worry if things look out of place.
Do you have a long hallway? Set up a chair if space permits, just in case you need to have a rest halfway. Perhaps you have a very steep staircase, but it’s possible for you to sleep downstairs for a while when you initially return home. Get the downstairs room prepared for a temporary stay. Low couches? Set up a dining chair in the lounge area so that you have an appropriate seating arrangement during recovery.
Taking the time to think about your home environment for your return after hospital will make your recovery a lot more comfortable.
Get help! Reach out for support
There will be certain activities that you cannot do straight away after you return home from a hip replacement. Driving is a common one that is delayed until you are off any strong pain killers and have reasonable use of your hips. Your surgeon will give you some guidance on the timeframe for returning to driving. If you live alone, this may mean you need to reach out to a family member, neighbour or friend to help you with supplies as you need or drive you to any follow-up appointments.
It’s also important to have someone check in on you from time to time during your recovery to attend to anything in the home which you cannot do at the time. You may have some limitations to how much bending you can do, or you might find that you can’t reach something on a high shelf as your balance is not quite what it used to be yet. Having some support for your recovery is important, as there is a lot of healing going on after your surgery. You don’t want to aggravate your healing hip or cause any unnecessary stress to the joint during recovery, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Understand the recovery process
Prior to your hip replacement, educate yourself on the recovery process. Ask questions of the medical team to ensure you feel informed about what is ahead. If you have engaged a physiotherapist, ask them to help you understand the rehabilitation process.
The better understanding you have of the process, such as what to expect in terms of pain and pain relief, what sitting or sleeping positions you should adopt during recovery, what you should avoid or what signs to look out for that indicate something might be wrong, is all valuable knowledge that will make you feel more at ease about the recovery process.
A hip replacement is a big operation, but one that more often than not goes smoothly with most people making an excellent recovery.
Get simple, real-time advice and talk with a TPC Physiotherapist today. Easy and affordable online consultation sessions are available here now.
Article written by Kathy Soo – Physiotherapist