Total hip replacement: What to expect before, during and after surgery
Hip, hip, hooray! No, really, we’re talking about your hip today!
If you’re reading this, you or someone you know is likely considering total hip replacement surgery. Let’s dive into what to expect before, during, and after this life-changing procedure.
Before Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Preparation is key, so let’s start with a few tips and products to make your transition into the world of hip replacement as smooth as possible.
- Pre-surgery Consultation: Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss your medical history with you, and you will undergo a physical examination, have X-rays and other tests to ensure you’re a good candidate for surgery. Make a list of questions beforehand to make the most of your time together.
- Exercise: Strengthening your muscles before surgery can aid in recovery. Consider low-impact exercises like swimming, yoga, or walking. Just remember to get your surgeon’s approval first.
- Home Modifications: Make life easier on your new hip by setting up a recovery haven. A raised toilet seat, shower chair, and grip bars can make your bathroom more hip-friendly. Nonskid rugs and rearranging furniture to accommodate a walker or crutches will also be helpful.
- Mobility Aids: Speaking of walkers and crutches, make sure to have these on hand before surgery. You’ll be the belle (or beau) of the ball, strutting your stuff down hospital corridors.
- Assistive Devices: Who needs Inspector Gadget when you have a grabber tool, sock aid, and long-handled shoehorn? These handy items can help you maintain your independence while your hip recovers.
- Meal Prep: Fill your freezer with easy-to-reheat meals or enlist friends and family to play chef. The last thing you want to worry about post-surgery is slaving away in the kitchen.
Now that you’re prepped and ready, let’s discuss what happens during the main event.
- Anesthesia: You’ll be given either general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia, depending on your medical history and surgeon’s preference. Both options will ensure you’re snoozing comfortably during the procedure.
- The Procedure: Your surgeon will make an incision, remove the damaged hip joint, and replace it with a shiny new artificial one. This high-tech gadgetry typically consists of a metal or ceramic ball and a plastic socket. Say hello to your new bionic hip!
- Duration: The surgery usually takes 1-2 hours. You’ll be blissfully unaware, dreaming of running marathons and dancing the night away.
You’ve made it through surgery, and now it’s time for recovery. Here’s what to expect during your post-op journey:
- Hospital Stay: Most patients stay in the hospital for 1-4 days. You’ll have a team of healthcare professionals at your beck and call, ensuring your pain is well-managed and you’re progressing nicely.
- Pain Management: Pain is a natural part of the healing process, but it’s important to stay ahead of it. Your healthcare team will provide pain-relief options, such as medication and ice therapy. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re uncomfortable.
- Physical Therapy: You’ll begin physical therapy soon after surgery to help restore your hip’s strength and range of motion. You’ll learn exercises to perform at home and may continue therapy on an outpatient basis for several weeks.
- Mobility: You’ll start using your new hip shortly after surgery with the help of a walker or crutches. Gradually, you’ll transition to a cane and eventually walk unassisted. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
- Wound Care: Keep your incision clean and dry to prevent infection. Follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding bathing and wound care. You’ll likely have a follow-up appointment to remove staples or sutures and ensure your hip is healing well.
- Swelling: Some swelling is normal after surgery. Elevate your leg and apply ice packs to help reduce swelling. Compression stockings may also be recommended by your healthcare team.
- Blood Clot Prevention: Your surgeon may prescribe blood-thinning medication or recommend compression devices to reduce the risk of blood clots. Remember to follow their advice and keep moving those legs!
- Driving: You’ll be back behind the wheel in no time, usually within 2-6 weeks. But, make sure to get the green light from your surgeon first. Safety first!
- Returning to Work: Depending on your job, you may be able to return to work within a few weeks. More physically demanding occupations may require a longer recovery period. Consult with your surgeon about the best timeline for your situation.
- Long-term Care: Your new hip should last for 15-20 years (or more) with proper care. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, to keep your hip in tip-top shape.
Total hip replacement surgery is a major procedure, but with adequate preparation, a skilled surgeon, and a positive attitude, you’ll be back on your feet in no time. Embrace your bionic hip and enjoy the improved quality of life it brings. Just remember to give yourself time to heal, follow your surgeon’s advice, and don’t forget to add a little humor to the journey. After all, laughter truly is the best medicine!
If you would like to discuss your total hip replacement with Dayton’s leading independent orthopedic surgeon, contact Dayton Orthopedic Surgery today. Please note that our surgeons do not provide hip replacements personally, we work with an excellent network of independent and hospital systems-based providers that will be able to perform your surgery, while we take care of your pre- and post-op imaging and care.