Hip Replacement--Frequently Asked Questions 

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Each patient's case is unique.  These questions and answers are general guidelines. 


What is recovery like?

In general, your orthopedist will encourage you to use your new joint soon after your operation. You could stand and start walking the day of surgery. You may walk with a walker or a cane for the first four to six weeks.


What about complications?

Speak with your orthopedist about possible complications of hip replacement surgery. To minimize risk of the hip coming out of the joint, follow the instructions your surgeon and the joint replacement team give you about safe exercise and movement. 


What about pain?

Most patients will have spinal anesthesia, which can minimize pain for the first 12 to 24 hours. Pain can then be regulated with oral or I.V. medications. The pain will disappear in stages beginning about two to three weeks after surgery.  After about three months, pain and twinges should disappear.  Proper pain management is important in your early recovery.  Remember that it is easier to continually lessen pain than to control it after you are in pain.  If your orthopedist prescribed I.V. pain control after the first 12 to 24 hours, you will be transitioned to oral pain medications within a day or two.


Should I exercise?

Exercise is important to recovery. Your orthopedic surgeon and joint replacement team will discuss an exercise program with you. Exercise programs will vary, based on each patient's needs. You may be cleared to play golf, walk and dance. However, strenuous sports, such as tennis or running, may be discouraged.


When will I be able to put on socks and shoes without help or a device?

Your therapist will show you how to put on shoes and socks and wash your feet, by crossing your operated-on leg over the other knee. When you are able to perform this maneuver, you can handle your socks and shoes yourself. Until then, it is best to have help or use an assistive device.


How long do I have to take special precautions?

You must follow some precautions for the rest of your life. These include avoiding turning your knee or leg inward while sitting, leaning forward over your lap when seated, raising your knee above a 90º angle or picking things off the floor stiff-legged. Other precautions such as taking a bath rather than a shower, sleeping on your side and using an elevated toilet seat, can be dropped after about 12 weeks.  It's good to continue to sleep with a pillow between your knees.


Will I be able to kneel or squat to garden?

Yes, you can kneel on the knee of your new hip. Have a stool close by to help you get up.


Will I need more physical therapy?

Occasionally, patients need additional physical therapy. If you have had both hips replaced, you will need physical therapy to help with balance and additional muscle strengthening.  


What about sports?

Non-impact sports such as golf, cycling, and swimming are recommended.  Walking is good for your hip joint and excellent exercise.  Ballroom dancing is good exercise too.  A friendly game of tennis doubles may be possible, but you should avoid singles games.


How long will it take me to feel like I'm back to normal?

You may notice that recovery can come in  three stages. Three months after surgery, you will feel better.  Six months later, you will feel even better. You may feel like your “old self” within a year. As the months go by, expect your stamina to return and the  precautions to become second nature.