Hip Replacement Information - Recovery

Recovery

How long before I can resume daily life activities?

As with any surgery, recovery times from a hip replacement vary from patient to patient. Some people can resume daily life activities in a few weeks, while others may take several months. Adhering to a prescribed exercise and recovery plan helps get patients back into their routine sooner, with few complications.

Upon returning home, patients are advised to stay active and be careful not to overexert. It’s always best to follow the instructions of doctors and physical therapists, but here are some general guidelines that may also be helpful:

Weight-bearing activities

Patient undergoing surgeries that include “supportive cement” can usually put some weight on the leg immediately after surgery, using a supportive aid like a cane or walker. Supportive aids are often used for four to six weeks to help muscles recover and strengthen.

For patients whose new hip was implanted without supportive cement, instructions will be given about the use of crutches or a walker, and how soon the affected leg can bear the weight of walking. This is usually about eight weeks.

Driving

Most patients can begin driving an automatic shift car within four to eight weeks following a hip replacement, provided they are no longer taking narcotic pain medication.

Climbing stairs

If possible, stair climbing should be limited until adequate healing has begun. If using stairs is unavoidable, the unaffected leg should step up first, followed by the affected leg. Crutches or cane will come up last. To go do down stairs, the process is reversed: place crutches/cane on the lower step first, then the affected leg, then the unaffected leg.

Will I require physical therapy?

Yes. Physical therapy plays a very important role in recovery and rehabilitation. Providing there are no complications, treatment typically begins the day after surgery, starting with simple, assisted movements and activities. After returning home from the hospital, most people receive therapy several times per week until treatment goals are attained. Some patients are referred to an outpatient physical therapist or rehabilitation hospital. Typically, physical therapists coordinate with the operating surgeon to improve hip range of motion, strength and weight bearing ability. They also demonstrate safe and proper movement for standing, sitting, climbing stairs and getting in and out of cars.

What activities I should avoid?

During rehabilitation, patients must be very careful not to engage in activities that could dislocate their newly implanted hip. Pivoting or twisting on the affected leg should be avoided for six to twelve months. Hip flexion past 90 degrees, crossing the repaired leg over the other, and walking “pigeon toed” should also be avoided, along with high-impact sports that involve running, jumping or jogging. Regular, frequent, low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, golf, hiking and biking are recommended to promote healing and strengthening the area, and to prevent the risk of dislocating the implant.