A hip replacement is a common operation, yet it can be life-changing. It can significantly improve your quality of life, helping you get back to the things you enjoyed before hip pain got in the way. If you are considering hip surgery, it’s important to understand how you can support yourself during the recovery period following the operation. Remember, you should always consult your GP first if you are experiencing hip pain, or thinking about any kind of surgery. Here are practical tips from hip surgery specialists, to help you recover successfully from surgery.
- Prepare your home in advance
Before your surgery, ask friends and family to help you rearrange your home so that you have easy access to everything you will need. Reorganize your kitchen and bathroom so that important things are at waist-level and within easy reach — including your daily essentials like tea and coffee, and your facewash with a clean towel. When you arrive home after your surgery, for some weeks you’re also going to need help with household chores like cleaning, cooking and shopping. Make arrangements with friends and family in advance, so they can pitch in where you need help. You can also use aids like a perching stool or chair, to help with moving around and completing tasks. This type of stool has a seat that slopes and can come with armrests. It can make daily tasks far less strenuous, such as food preparation in the kitchen.
You should also prepare to be dressing differently for the few weeks following surgery to ensure you aren't causing irritation to the wound site. Reboundwear makes premium adaptive athletic pants that can take you from your surgery day, to recovery at home, to your doctors appointments, to your physical therapy appointments with no need to change or undress in between!
- Plan for some time off work
How long this will be depends largely on how you feel, as it’s most important to allow yourself enough time to recover fully before returning to your regular duties. Up to three months is expected for rehabilitation following your operation. If you have a physically demanding job though, your return to work may take longer. How you travel to work is also a factor to consider. It might be possible to explore a different way of working to aid your recovery and a smoother return to work.
And, this planning can be carried out before your operation, to give you added peace of mind and help you make the most of your recovery time.
- Balance rest and recovery with gentle exercise
Orthopedic Consultant, Mr. Angus Lewis, says that it’s often tempting after surgery, to stay still — whether in bed or in a chair. While it’s important to rest to allow yourself time to recover, it’s also important to get moving too. This is because if you stay still for too long, you can become stiff which could hinder your recovery (and it could take longer).
Gentle exercise is beneficial, such as short, gentle walks around your home and outside. Supervised physiotherapy, like rehabilitation programs and hydrotherapy, can also help improve recovery in the weeks following surgery. Your orthopedic care team will be able to support you with this, as it’s important to not overdo it. If you overdo things, you could experience more pain and lose confidence. So, it’s important to get the balance right.
- Think about your nutrition to help speed up recovery
Orthopedic Nurse, Desmond Runganga, says a healthy, balanced diet is key to recovery. Healthy eating & drinking is important to your overall health, but after any surgery the body has to heal. A varied diet plays a vital role in this healing process. One that contains all important nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Runganga also advises not to attempt weight loss during your recovery.
- Be mindful of your hip when in bed
Good sleep habits and a comfortable bed will help support your recovery. Having sex is also not advised during the first six weeks of your recovery. After this time, and when you feel ready, take things slowly. Remember to consider the position of your hip to avoid muscle strain, injury or dislocation of the hip.
- Think about your holidays and travel plans
You should refrain from flying for the first six weeks after surgery. You can fly short-haul after this time, but should not fly long-haul (or travel for very long distances) for three months. Sitting still for too long can increase your risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in your legs.
If you drive, you can check with your insurance company about whether your policy covers you to drive following a surgical procedure. You may find that you are not insured to drive for a certain number of weeks. Your surgical team will advise about your after-surgery pain medication, as it’s important to remember you should not drive at all on strong painkillers. You can usually return to driving after six weeks. Either way, be aware that your reflexes may not be as quick just after surgery. Make sure you’re comfortable in the driving seat, and able to perform an emergency stop.
- Return to your hobbies steadily
After a hip replacement, you may be keen to get on with life as normal and as fast as you can. Including taking part in the more active hobbies you enjoy, like getting back in the gym.
Different sports can put different kinds of strain on the body. It’s important to follow the advice from your orthopaedic care team.
Refrain from all golf including the driving range for the first six weeks. This is because twisting the hip joint at this early stage could cause you pain and hinder recovery.
Avoid public swimming pools for the first six weeks while your surgical wound is still healing and to reduce the risk of infection.
Your orthopaedic care team will be able to advise on the swim techniques and swim strokes you can use to aid your rehabilitation, and which ones to avoid completely.
While it’s important to walk gently after surgery, hiking on uneven ground isn’t recommended for at least three months. If you do start hiking or rambling after this time, use a walking or Nordic pole.
Once you’re fully recovered, it’s fine to run short distances — no more than 5 km at a time, and only if it feels comfortable. Any distance longer than this, should be avoided completely. This is because running is a high-impact sport that puts a lot of pressure on the joints of the body, including the hip joint.