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Recovering well from hip surgery

( 04 July 2017 )

Expert recovery advice for anyone due for a hip replacement operation by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Graham Gie.

Nurse holding senior man's hand on walking stick
If you're due to have hip surgery plan ahead to aid your recovery

Planning ahead for after your hip surgery

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Get well sooner: enhanced recovery techniques

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Recovering well from hip surgery

1. Have a 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.

2. Build up activity 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 side effects of any pain relief medication.

Further advice about making a speedy recovery after total hip replacement can be found at:

Follow Helen Pierce's Diary of a Hip Replacement for a first-hand account of what it's like to recover from hip replacement surgery

Want to talk to a GP today? With Saga Health Insurance, you have unlimited access to a qualified GP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out more about our GP phone service.

Need 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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