What to Expect after Hip Replacement Surgery

senior discussing hip replacement surgery with his doctor

Jim knows it’s time to replace his left hip. The pain has been increasing over the past few years and it is now impossible to ignore. He can no longer play golf, has trouble getting out of bed in the morning and needs pain medication to get through the day. Jim understands what’s involved in the surgery process pretty clearly, but what about after surgery?  Jim needs a better understanding of what his recovery and rehabilitation options are.

Hip replacement has become a fairly common surgery for seniors and middle-aged adults. Researchers note that longer life expectancies and more active lifestyles can lead to osteoarthritis, caused by trauma and wear and tear on the body. It is important to have a clear understanding of what is required after surgery, to gauge whether rehabilitation and recovery is best at home or at a rehabilitation facility.

Hip Replacement Recovery – After the Surgery

Hospital stays vary from 2-6 days depending on the rate of recovery. You will be encouraged by a physical therapist to start walking with a walker or crutches the day after surgery. You will also be seen by an occupational therapist to review how to accomplish tasks like getting out of bed and going to the bathroom while preventing injury. Pain medication will be monitored and gradually reduced during the hospital stay.

Rehabilitation and Therapy for Total Hip Replacement

Therapists will be your greatest friend and toughest coach while you recover. Staying motivated and engaged in rebuilding your strength and abilities will be your main job for the next few months.

A Certified Physical Therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan to maximize efforts to regain normal functions efficiently. Therapy will include exercises, stretching, and weight training programs to help restore and increase flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and balance.

A Certified Occupational Therapist will work with you to accomplish daily living tasks during recovery like walking, working with walking aids, reaching, bending, showering and dressing.

The Recovery Period Post-Hip Replacement Surgery

At or before one-week post-surgery, you can expect to be discharged from the hospital with recovery instructions and exercises.

Staples may be removed during week two.  Showers or baths are generally permitted at this time. Depending on recovery progress, age, fitness and an available support group, if you are at a rehabilitation facility, you may choose to return home.

During weeks 3-6, light activities are possible while taking care to prevent injuries, including driving for short distances, light chores and social engagements. Physical and occupational therapy continues.

During weeks 10-12, you may be able to resume all or some of your normal activities, with advice from your occupational therapist on adjustments to ensure comfort and to do so without injury. It may take six months to a year to resume your full and normal level of activity. Physical therapy and strength and endurance training will continue as needed.

Home Care or Rehabilitation Facility for Hip Replacement Recovery?

Home Care

If you are fit, have no memory issues, are younger, and feel able, you may be more comfortable rehabilitating at home. Advanced planning will make all the difference as to the effectiveness of this choice. Included in planning should be:

  • Arrange for home visits from physical and occupational therapists, as well as a visiting nurse service
  • 12 to 24-hour nursing care for the first week
  • Home care therapy support arranged
  • A support group in place to assist with daily living tasks and driving to doctor and therapy appointments
  • Rearrange the furniture to maneuver easily with walker, crutches or cane. Roll up any area rugs to prevent slipping
  • Have the things you need within reach of the bed
  • Have a good straight-backed chair with a high seat to get in and out of more easily
  • Have a shower chair and shower bars
  • Have prepared meals in the freezer or a schedule of meal support from friends
  • Motivation to complete daily exercise plans

Rehabilitation Facility

If the you have memory or cognitive issues, have no or limited access to home support, are unable to prevent injury and/or cannot prepare your own meals, discharge to a short or long-term rehabilitation facility may be the best choice for successful recovery for a total hip replacement. Rehabilitation facilities provide:

  • RN’s and LPN’s to provide incision care, pain management, medications
  • Certified and vetted physical and occupational therapists on site to provide daily sessions
  • Aides to assist with daily care tasks, walking, bathing, meal service
  • Access to rehabilitation and exercise equipment
  • Wide hallways, bathroom grab bars, high toilet seats
  • Doctor’s visit and/or transportation to doctor appointments
  • Companionship, inspiration, activities

Subacute Rehabilitation at Green Hill

Restore, Reclaim, Rebuild

The Green Hill clinical support team creates an individualized rehabilitation treatment plan designed to optimize recovery, maximize functional capacity and reestablish independence. Our specialized nursing team, trained in geriatrics, provides 24/7 skilled care. Green Hill rehabilitative care can take place in the Green House© Home, the revolutionary residence for ten, each with a private bedroom with bathroom and shower, family style meals, open floor plan and accessible out door porch and patio. Another option is in the Legacy building, in private suites in a communal setting, with restaurant dining and social activities. Care is best managed with consistency. Green Hill can continue rehabilitative care at home with Green Hill@ Home services.

For more information about subacute rehabilitation for hip replacement surgery or other medical needs, please contact us today.

This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.