What Should I Expect from Hip Replacement Recovery?

N. Madison
N. Madison

There are many variables in what a person can expect from hip replacement recovery. There’s a hospital stay to consider as well as the potential for complications after surgery. A person who has undergone hip replacement surgery will also need physical therapy to help make his hip joint stronger. Patients will also have a period of time to wait before they can resume their normal activities.

An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.
An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.

Among the things a person should expect from hip replacement recovery is to spend several hours in a recovery room immediately following surgery. This allows hospital staff to monitor the patient in the critical time that follows a surgical procedure. After this time in the recovery room, a patient will probably spend a few days in a regular hospital room. The exact length of time a person will spend in the hospital depends on a number of factors, including his post-surgery progress and whether or not complications develop.

Pain is a common part of hip replacement recovery.
Pain is a common part of hip replacement recovery.

Unfortunately, pain is something else a person can expect from hip replacement recovery. Doctors typically provide painkilling medication that helps patients monitor their discomfort. Pain that lasts long after surgery may indicate a problem.

Though most people don’t experience serious complications after hip replacement surgery, there are some that can develop. For example, a patient may develop an infection or blood clots in the legs or pelvic area. Both of these complications can be serious, as infection can spread and make the patient very ill, and blood clots can travel and cause a heart attack or stroke. Doctors may take preventative measures to maintain the patient's health during recovery, such as administering antibiotics or providing medication and special stockings to avoid blood clot development. Doctors may also ask patients to cough regularly while in the hospital, which helps prevent lung congestion.

Physical therapy is another important thing patients can expect from hip replacement recovery. Often, patients begin therapy as early as one day after surgery, learning exercises to strengthen the hip and regain its full range of motion. During the course of in-hospital recovery, a patient may work with a therapist at least once each day. After discharge from the hospital, patients continue to work toward strengthening the hip joint, seeing a therapist a few times each week.

When considering what to expect from hip replacement recovery, a patient should know that about three to six weeks will pass before he can resume his normal activities, and he'll have to wait about six weeks before he can drive again. Of course, recovery times may vary from person to person, depending on the effects of physical therapy, complications after the surgery and how well the wound heals. Patients typically see their doctors for follow-up visits several times after surgery.

Patients may begin physical therapy as early as a day following hip replacement surgery.
Patients may begin physical therapy as early as a day following hip replacement surgery.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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