Hip replacement surgery – Getting back on your feet

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Hip replacement surgery is a relatively common procedure, carried out around 160,000 times a year in England and Wales alone. Reasons for hip replacement can include arthritis, fractures or ankylosing spondylitis. Recovery from the operation can take from a few weeks to up to six months, but there are ways to make sure life returns to normal as quickly as possible.

What to expect after hip replacement surgery

Following this procedure, patients usually stay in the hospital for a few days before returning home. Here, the nurses can maintain the large dressing that the surgery requires and ensure that the hip is kept in the right position. Patients may have to lie in a specific position, and often have their legs supported by pillows. Patients must not eat or drink before the operation but can usually begin drinking water fairly soon afterward. Staff will help the patient begin moving as soon as possible.

Going home

When it’s time to go back home, anticoagulant injections or antibiotics may be supplied and many people require crutches until the hip is fully healed. Gentle walking and movement may be uncomfortable and can be taxing, but will help patients get well sooner. The pain from the initial injury or disease that made the operation necessary should go straight away.

Follow-on care

After hip replacement surgery, patients are often given a course of physiotherapy and an outpatient appointment to assess recovery will be arranged. For any interim concerns, the patients GP will be able to provide suitable advice and care. If fluid or redness are present around the joint or hip pain increases, it’s best to contact a healthcare professional.

Returning to normal

A hip replacement is a major operation, and steps must be taken to reduce the risk of injury afterward. Patients must not drive until at least six weeks after the operation and should not attempt vigorous movements or sports until told that it is safe to do so by their doctor. It is advisable to stay off work between six and 12 weeks, depending on the occupation in question. Doctors often advise patients to avoid certain movements, like those that twist the hip or make it uncomfortable.

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