What to expect if I have hip replacement surgery?
So you’re thinking of having hip replacement surgery but not 100% sure what to expect? The thought of any surgery can be daunting let alone when it involves one of the big joints in your body! The good thing is, educating yourself about hip replacement surgery pre-op improves outcomes post-op and may help speed up your recovery time if you know a little bit about what to expect. The best way to start is to get an idea of what a healthy hip is like versus a painful hip.
The hip is a ball and socket joint where the ball at the top of the femur (thigh bone) sits smoothly in the socket of your pelvis (hip) which is lined by cartilage. In a healthy hip the cartilage stops the bones from rubbing together resulting in smooth, pain-free movement. Over time the cartilage can wear away so the underlying bone is exposed. This is known as Hip Osteoarthritis and often occurs over time through repetitive movement, heavy manual work, injury or just general wear and tear with age! Hip Osteoarthritis can make moving around and walking painful; a new hip joint can help to improve your mobility and reduce pain.
What does hip replacement surgery involve?
Most hip replacement surgeries take a couple of hours under general aesthetic. The most common approach to doing a hip replacement is through the gluteal (buttock) muscles where the surgeon cuts an incision in your muscles to access the hip joint. The surgeon may then remove the damaged ball at the top of your thigh bone and replace it with an artificial ball, followed by hollowing out the hip socket to make a shallow cup and inserting an artificial socket into it. This makes up the two halves of the hip joint and is called a Total Hip Replacement. There are other types of hip replacement surgeries but this type is more commonly seen at Fleurieu Physiotherapy & Wellness.
What to expect immediately following hip replacement surgery?
After surgery you will probably be sore and you may experience some swelling around the incision. Don’t despair though as this is a very normal part of the recovery process! Most people stay in hospital for 5-7 days but this will depend on the exact type of hip replacement surgery you had. Post-operative physiotherapy usually starts from day 1 after surgery in the hospital and will normally consist of:
– Deep breathing exercises
– Ankle pump exercises to promote healthy circulation
– Range of motion exercises to stop your new hip stiffening up
– Practice transferring in/out of bed & on/off the toilet
– Education regarding post-operative precautions with your new hip (this will depend on your exact surgery)
– Education regarding walking with a frame or crutches as well as walking practice.
Most patients following hip replacement surgery are discharged home once they are able to get in/out of bed independently, sit-stand independently, ascend/descend stairs independently and walk with minimal help (using a gait aid like a frame).
What to expect once I’m discharged home after hip replacement surgery?
Once you are discharged home it’s a great idea to visit your local physiotherapist like Fleurieu Physiotherapy & Wellness to get started on active rehabilitation exercises. Rehabilitation will normally consist of
– Exercises to restore full hip joint range of motion
– Exercises to restore full muscle strength
– Walking re-education and weaning off gait aids
– Education regarding the precautions with hip replacement surgery to minimize any complications
Hydrotherapy is a fantastic rehabilitation option after hip replacement surgery & is something Fleurieu Physiotherapy & Wellness provide. Hydrotherapy is excellent after hip replacement surgery because it takes the load off the joint meaning you can exercise for longer with minimal pain than you would be able to do on land. 6 to 12 weeks after surgery most people have a follow-up appointment with their surgeon to make sure their hip is healing properly. If recovery is progressing well most people resume their normal activities by this time. In fact, after 12 weeks post-op, most people are more active than before as movement is less painful.
Physiotherapy plays a large role in rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery. Pre-operative physiotherapy is also a good idea if you’re considering having a hip replacement as it helps to build strength and stability around the hip before having surgery. If you’re thinking of having hip replacement surgery, Fleurieu Physiotherapy & Wellness would be thrilled to step you through the process to ensure you get back to doing the things you love to do pain-free.