Recovering well from hip surgery

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Graham Gie has some expert advice for anyone due for a hip replacement operation

Hip replacementIf you're due to have hip surgery plan ahead to aid your recovery
Planning ahead for after your hips surgery

Round up supporters: if you live alone, organise support in advance from family and friends. In the first few days after you leave hospital they can help with shopping, driving or lifting heavier items. Just having someone around for company to encourage you and keep your spirits up really helps.

Make basic items accessible: after surgery excessive bending is discouraged and can be difficult, so move food and clothes you’ll be needing on a daily basis to a comfortable height which is easy to reach.

A walking tea trolley: when recovering from hip surgery walking is encouraged and you will progress from walking with the support of a physiotherapist in hospital, through to walking with a stick at home for two to six weeks after the operation. A walking tea trolley is a good investment so you can carrying things around the home while you still need a walking aid. It is one of the most practical recovery aids to have ready at home, helping you keep a normal, mobile routine.

Stop smoking: ideally you should do this prior to surgery but, at least, by not smoking for two weeks beforehand and for the time you are recovering, you will start to improve your circulation and your breathing which is beneficial to the overall healing process.

Recovering well from hip surgery

Healthy diet: a healthy balanced diet will ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to heal. Getting plenty of fibre while recovering will also help to keep your bowels moving regularly.

Build up gradually: try and do some of the things you’d normally do, but build up gradually. You may feel more tired than usual doing these activities; if so stop and rest until your strength returns.

Sex: this is an important milestone for many people, and it is down to each individual when they feel comfortable about having sex again after surgery. After a hip replacement, it may be most comfortable for the recovering patient to lie on their back. Also, remember not to put your 'operated leg' in a position where it could become dislocated; your surgeon and/or physiotherapist will explain this to you.

Driving: don’t try for the six weeks after surgery; if you have an automatic car you may be able to drive earlier but discuss the possibility with your surgeon first. Travelling as a passenger is also best avoided for the first three weeks except for essential journeys, as getting in and out of a car can risk straining the hip and stretching the healing tissues. Before resuming driving you will need to be fully recovered from your operation and be free from the distracting effect of pain or effects of any pain relief medication.

Further advice about making a speedy recovery after total hip replacement can be found at www.rcseng.ac.uk/getwellsoon.

For advice about other operations

The Royal College of Surgeons and specialist surgical associations have produced a range of online advice and practical tips on how to gradually return to everyday activities following 17 common operations*. The information is designed to be read as soon as you know you are going to have surgery, and contains a useful day-by-day recovery tracker to help after the operation. The advice moves away from traditional perceptions that a lengthy spell of bed rest is the best way for all patients to recuperate, focusing instead on what you can do safely after a routine procedure.

*The procedures included on the Get Well Soon webpage are: Arthroscopic meniscectomy; Carpal tunnel release; Cataract Surgery; Coronary artery bypass graft; Discectomy; Gall Bladder Removal; Groin Hernia Repair; Lumpectomy; Lung Resection; Mastectomy; Nasal Septoplasty; Nephrectomy; Oesophagectomy; Thyroidectomy; Total Hip Replacement; Total Knee replacement.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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  • Janine smith

    Posted: Saturday 11 January 2014

    I had full hip replacement 6weeks ago in lanzorote after falling when I was on holiday I'm still in pain and walking with stick I go to hospital in few weeks to have hip scan and bone scan it as been very painful and would not have ad it done but didnt have a choice owing to accident

  • Connie Arney

    Posted: Sunday 29 December 2013

    I had an Exeter THR on my R hip six years ago but now I'm having trouble with walking. I am walking on the outside of my foot and my hip is painful and feels unstable. I get discomfort and a feeling of displacement in my groin. I now have to use a stick for safety. I am concerned my hip will need to be operated on again. I expected it to last longer than this.

  • Gaynor Tomlin

    Posted: Monday 30 September 2013

    I have had an acetabula osteotomy 20 years ago 0n both hips (cut & realigned, 8 months none weight bearing on each leg. I am now due for hip replacements, does anybody have any experience of this? Not looking forward to it as I lost a lot of confidence last time but am assured it will be nothing like before. Just wondered if anyone can advise etc

  • theresa strickland

    Posted: Friday 12 July 2013

    i work 12 hours on concrete floors walking in steel toe caps 4 days a week if i have bilateral hip replacements how long will i expect them to last working in this environment my Dr has said this job will be no longer viable what are my options. yours in pain and stressed out. Teri ps im 41 years old

  • tanya

    Posted: Wednesday 17 April 2013

    Hi dere all am very hapi 2 hear you guys are so strong.Am going 2 do a hip replacement and am so scared.I am a. Cosmetology and am worried if I will ever stand straight or walk straight again

  • Minxy

    Posted: Monday 01 October 2012

    55 female: I had a total hip replacement two weeks ago today. It was ceramic, uncemented, short stem. I have today had the ends of the stitches cut flush with the skin (the rest will dissolve). I have no pain - was taking paracetomol, but stopped these today. I'm walking around the house with no walking aids, and just take one crutch (more for a feeling of security than anything) when out.
    I live alone and have managed everything I need to do. It is brilliant, highly delighted!

  • David Dunne

    Posted: Monday 24 September 2012

    I had a Hip replacement about 8yrs ago and to this Day I'm still unable to tie my Shoelace,now I'm facing another Hip replacement operation this Week {opposite Hip} only this time I'm more prepared.
    After my 1st Op' I was not given any Exercise to do despite visits to the Surgeon who told me it will all come right in time now I'm forewarned and have a Physio' lined up to have me on his Table within 2Wks of the Op' and he'll work on the other Leg also. Fingers crossed this Time.

  • Barry Biddiscombe

    Posted: Wednesday 18 April 2012

    I had a no cement hip replacement in Jan 2012 and have a swelling of the thigh, calf and ankle that has the appearance of a secondary lymphoedema. My surgeon has said that the fluid comes from the bone cavity that it not sealed off by cement. Eventually the capsule around the joint will heal to seal this off. I have been prescribed inappropriate drugs by my GP practice, due to their ignorance of the possibility of this side effect. It is not in any literature that I have seen.

  • William Lyon

    Posted: Wednesday 29 February 2012

    I had a left replacement hip operation 24yrs ago.I am now 66 and have had no problems.Next operation on right hip was 12 yrs ago at age 54,both hips perfect.Also had a right knee replacement 5yrs ago also superb.Thanks to the Nhs and staff at Wrightington Hospital where the Charnley Hip was perfected

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