November 1, 2020

After hip replacement surgery: What recovery in the hospital is like

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Immediately after surgery, you’ll need certain support and skills. What to expect.

After hip replacement surgery, you’ll learn skills that will help you return to normal activity. To protect your new hip, an occupational therapist or physical therapist will teach you safer ways of doing daily tasks. Your healthcare team will teach you how to walk, sit and dress as your hip heals and beyond. To make movement easier, ask about pain medication before each training session.

Sitting, dressing or using stairs

To sit, back up until the edge of the chair touches your leg. Then, using the armrests to support your weight, lower yourself into the seat. Keep your operated leg out in front.

To pull on socks and shoes, use a long-handled device, such as a grasper or hook. Try this with slip-on shoes first.

To wash your feet and legs, use a long-handled sponge and a shower hose.

To use stairs, step up first with your good leg. Then bring your operated leg up to meet it. When going down, step down first with your operated leg.

Planning your discharge

Before you’re sent home from the hospital, your care team will meet with you to arrange for your immediate care, at home or at inpatient rehab. They will also help arrange for any special equipment or therapy you may need at home. You’ll probably make an appointment to visit your surgeon in a few weeks for a follow-up visit.

Going home

You can leave the hospital when you’re able to walk safely, including up and down stairs. Once home, it’s normal to have good and bad days. But if you continue exercising, there will be more good days and your general condition is likely to improve.

Your family’s role

Family support is especially important while you recover and readjust. Family members can help you make the transition to home. They can also help you with equipment until you can use it on your own, but your family should recognize that as you heal, it’s important to do physical tasks for yourself as much as possible.

After you are home

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you have excessive pain; signs of infection in your incision; a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher; pain or swelling in the calf; or any sudden chest pain or shortness of breath.

Older African-American couple stand on a path with bicycles

If you are dealing with an injury, facing surgery or coping with chronic pain, Vanderbilt Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of care. Our specialists work with you from evaluation and “prehab” through physical therapy and, if needed, surgery. We’ll help you get back to doing the things you love, pain-free. To make an appointment, call 615-936-7846.

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