In years past, when surgery was needed, patients met with their doctors, made their surgical appointments and waited for the day of surgery to arrive. Today, there is a much greater focus on preparing for surgical procedures — which is good news, because recovery almost always goes better and faster with preparation.
This is true when it comes to hip replacement. While getting a new hip joint can significantly improve quality of life, it is important that patients prepare for and follow through with doctors’ instructions during the recovery period.
Before Your Hip Replacement
If you are having a hip replaced, here are some things you can do prior to the procedure to improve your recovery:
- Get to a healthy weight. If you need help, talk to your doctor about effective weight loss strategies.
- Talk to your care team. Talk to your doctor and care team to better understand what to expect post-surgery. Take notes so you know specifically what to expect during the first few hours after surgery, that night in the hospital, within the first two to three days after the surgery, and over the long-term.
- Find a caregiver. Find a friend or relative who can come to your home and help you in the days after your hip replacement. Explain what you will need help with, such as cooking or laundry. Review the notes you have taken with your caregiver too.
- Stay active. Try to maintain regular physical activity since it can help decrease your recovery time. Swimming is often recommended, since it is low-impact and easy on the joints.
After Your Hip Replacement
Here are some things to remember during your recovery:
- Get as comfortable as possible and rest. If you are uncomfortable, your caregiver may be able to use pillows or special devices to help hold your hip in its proper position. Do the things that help relax you, such as listening to soothing music or warming yourself with a blanket.
- Try not to become frustrated with your limited mobility. Remind yourself that it is not possible to “jump ahead” in your recovery, and it will literally be step-by-step as you move ahead. Encourage yourself by celebrating the small victories.
- Follow through with exercise recommendations. As you recover, you will likely work with a physical therapist. He or she will guide you through movements and teach you exercises to do at home. It is important to carefully follow this professional advice.
Finally, remember that healing time is different for everyone. Although complete recovery typically occurs within three to six months, it varies depending on your overall fitness level and health.