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What to Expect After a Hip Replacement

Oct 22, 2015

If you’re having a hip replacement, it’s best to be as informed as possible before undergoing surgery. While this is a common procedure that successfully restores mobility to many patients, it’s still a major surgery that you need to be fully prepared for.

Keep reading to find out what you can expect after the surgery and how to make sure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

After Surgery

Because a hip replacement is major surgery, a typical hospital stay is about three to four days depending on how quickly you progress. You’ll experience some pain but medication will be administered to help you feel more comfortable.

While in the hospital, your caretakers will probably want you to start moving as much as you can after the surgery in order to help you regain full movement in the hip. Your surgeon and physical therapist will teach you how to do some very simple exercises like contracting and releasing the muscles in the legs and buttocks and pumping the ankles. They will also explain how it’s very important to restrict the movement in your hips.

Planning at Home

You won’t be able to get around for a few days or a few weeks after surgery so it’s important to prepare ahead of time. Make sure to arrange for a ride home from the hospital. If possible, it’s best to have a family member or a friend stay with you for the first five days. You’ll also want to make sure you have someone available to drive you to follow-up appointments and physical therapy sessions.

Before the surgery, stock your home with prepared foods to avoid worrying about cooking meals during your recovery. If your room is on the second floor, set up a bed on the first floor because climbing the stairs will not be an option. Make sure all the things you need, like the phone and television remote, are in an area you can reach.

Caring for Your Incision

The incision will be sore for the first week or so after your surgery and the staples will remain in for around 14 days afterwards. It’s important to avoid using any lotions or creams near the incision and you must keep it completely dry. It’s common for the area around the incision to be slightly bruised and to feel an itchy or slight burning sensation.

Once the staples are removed, you should avoid showers for the first 48 hours.


In most cases, patients should be able to resume normal activities three to six weeks after surgery. Exercise during this time is critical because that is the best way to begin increasing your mobility. The surgeon will help you create an activity program to help you begin using your hip replacement. This program will include light walking around your home, increase to longer walks outside, followed by resuming normal activities such as standing and climbing stairs. You may also see a physical therapist to learn specific exercises that will help restore movement and strengthen your hip.

If you’re undergoing a hip replacement in the near future, be sure to prepare yourself for the recovery period and keep these helpful tips in mind.

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