Healing from Total Hip Replacement: What to Expect

A total hip replacement surgery can transform your life. After you recover from the procedure, you can find relief from pain and enjoy an increased range of motion and level of mobility. With a total hip replacement, you can stay active for years to come.

At the Orthopedic Center of Arlington in Arlington, Texas, Dr. Bruce Prager and his team can help you plan your recovery from a total hip replacement surgery. With his orthopedic surgery expertise, Dr. Prager has the knowledge and experience you can trust as you navigate the recovery process.

Before your procedure

In your total hip replacement surgery, Dr. Prager removes the sections of your hip joint that have sustained damage, replacing them with an artificial joint with parts made from metal, ceramic, or plastic. Your prosthetic joint will eventually enjoy full function. But, first, you have to heal.

You begin the rehabilitation therapy process before your surgery. Then, your physical therapist works with you right after your procedure, going over the exercises you’ll need to start doing right away when you go home.

Immediately after your procedure

For most patients, it’s possible to stand, walk, and head home on the day of your surgery. Few patients need bed rest after a hip replacement, although you may need to stay overnight in a hospital if you have a preexisting condition that needs to be monitored.

It’s normal to experience some swelling and initial pain after your total hip replacement procedure. Relieve pain initially with icing therapy, and elevate your leg to reduce swelling. Dr. Prager may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to help you manage initial pain and swelling. 

If your pain is consistently at a six or more on a 1-10 pain scale, let Dr. Prager know so that you can be evaluated for infection or other complications. Post-surgical risks include infection around the incision site, hip dislocation, and bone fractures.

You continue to work with physical and occupational therapists in the days and weeks following your hip replacement surgery, with visits 2-3 times per week in addition to an at-home exercise regimen.

The first month

It takes about six weeks for your absorbable sutures to disappear and your incision to heal. During that time, it’s crucial to protect your incision area from infection. Don’t swim or bathe until your incision heals fully, and watch out for signs of infection like redness, swelling, fever, or drainage around your incision site.

You may benefit from an assistive device like a walker to keep you from falling as you heal. However, you need to put weight on your new help to proceed with your rehabilitation. Continued exercise, including resistance training for your hips and knees, builds back your muscle strength, helping you manage everyday tasks and motions like standing and climbing.

Recovery from a total hip replacement takes about 2-4 weeks, although your healing speed varies based on factors, including your age and underlying levels of health. With continued physical therapy, your pain levels should lower to a 1 or 2 on a 1-10 pain scale after about 12 weeks.

Get back to your life

Talk to Dr. Prager about the activities you’re anxious to resume after your hip replacement. He can advise you on how many weeks you’ll need before you can drive, return to work, and get back to athletic activities.

Depending on your age, health, and the type of work or sports environments you spend time in, you might need to wait as long as six weeks before Dr. Prager suggests you return to full activity following your hip replacement surgery. Once you get through recovery, you can get back to enjoying every minute of your life without worrying about hip failure. 

Today’s hip prosthetics can last for as long as 20-30 years. If your hip pain interferes with your daily life and activities, and more conservative therapies and treatments aren’t helping sufficiently, talk to Dr. Prager about whether hip replacement could be right for you.

Schedule your appointment at the Orthopedic Center of Arlington by calling today or use the online tool to book your initial consultation.

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