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Total Hip Replacement: From Surgery to Recovery

About 1/4th of Americans report having hip pain most of the time, according to the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. While a significant number of respondents were over 60 years old, many were significantly younger than that.

Arthritis has long been the most common cause of hip pain. However, muscle imbalances—brought on by the stiffening of hip flexors after extended periods of sitting—are also wreaking havoc on Americans’ hips.

Hip pain tends to stick around, too. Many causes of hip pain irreparably damage the ball-and-socket joint of your hip. Since it’s almost impossible to avoid using your hip (you use it both when standing and sitting down), a damaged hip can mean a lifetime of painful movement—unless, that is, the hip is replaced.

Modern surgical techniques allow doctors to remove the damaged parts of the femur and ball and socket joint and replace them with an artificial ball and socket. In fact, Dr. Haleem Chaudhary at Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is an expert at performing the procedure. He even worked to pioneer an anterior approach to the surgery.

If you are considering hip replacement surgery, the following article provides a timeline of what to expect during surgery. This timeline will also provide you with a sense of what recovery will be like.

Day of Surgery

On the day of the surgery, the patient will arrive at the hospital or Beacon’s surgery center about an hour before their scheduled surgery time. Once the patient arrives, the nurses will help them prepare for surgery.

Once they’re ready, the patient will be administered their pain management and anesthesia. They will quickly fall asleep.

The surgery will be performed once the patient is under anesthesia. A small incision will be made over the hip to expose the joint, the damaged, arthritic bone will be removed from the joint and an artificial ball and socket will be inserted.

After the procedure is completed, the surgeon will clean and dress the incision site. Then, the patient will be taken to the recovery room where they’ll wake up from the anesthesia. For more information about how the surgery is performed, visit Dr. Chaudhary’s physician page or check out this animation.

After Surgery

Within 24 hours of their surgery, patients will typically be able to stand and walk (with assistance).

Dr. Chaudhary recommends beginning physical therapy the day after surgery in order to facilitate recovery. At the start of physical therapy, therapists will teach the patient how to move safely in order to protect their new hip joint. Patients will have 2-3 physical therapy appointments over the course of 6-8 weeks.

Patients will also wear knee high compression hose on both legs, 24 hours/day for the first two weeks, to prevent blood clots. After the first two weeks, patients should wear compression hose only when they are up and moving around for an additional week.

Patients who have surgery at Beacon’s Surgery Center will leave the facility within 23 hours. Patients who have surgery at a hospital will typically stay about three days. A physician will determine whether or not a patient is ready to return home based on the following criteria:

  • Get in and out of bed by themselves
  • Have acceptable pain control
  • Be able to eat, drink, and use the bathroom
  • Be able to walk (using an assistive device) on a level surface and be able to climb up and down two or three stairs
  • Be able to perform the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist at home
  • Understand all instructions given by the doctors and therapists to prevent injury and ensure proper healing

Once home, patients will likely need some assistance with daily tasks. Beacon Orthopaedics encourages patients to arrange for a friend or family member to stay with them for the first few days/week to assist.

2 Weeks After Surgery

By this point, many patients are completely off of narcotic pain medication and are really progressing in physical therapy.

Most patients are able to drive by this point; however, others may need as much as eight weeks of recovery before they can resume driving. Before a patient can drive, they must be off narcotic pain medication while driving, and their reflexes and muscle strength should be returned to pre-surgery levels.

Work can also be resumed by this point, though more time may be required if the patient works a particularly labor-intensive job.

1.5 Months After Surgery

After about six weeks, patients should be able to put most of their full weight on their leg, which means they will also be able to return to light activity and maybe even walk without some sort of aid.

By this point, patients will be allowed to cross their legs again. This has been prohibited until the six-week mark because it pinches the hip joint and can damage the hip implant.

3+ Months After Surgery

By this point, most patients report that the mild swelling that has persisted up until this point has gone away. However, this is not always the case; sometimes the swelling takes up to six months to go away.

By this point, patients should have graduated from their physical therapy program. However, we recommend that patients continue doing their exercises, as they will further strengthen the hip and improve quality of life. Patients can return to many activities that require physical exertion with the approval of their physician.

85% of patients report that they have less pain and more mobility three months after hip replacement surgery than before it. This number increases even more after six months.

Think Total Hip Replacement is Right for You? Schedule a Consultation Today

The previous timeline is a generalization of the steps a patient will go through while recovering from total hip replacement. For more specific details about what you can expect at Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports medicine, schedule an appointment with Dr. Chaudhary today. He and his team will meet with you personally, describe the procedure, and answer any questions you might have.