Top FAQs Concerning Total Hip Replacement Recovery

In this modern age of advanced orthopedic medicine, patients with severe hip arthritis no longer have to spend decades of their lives in pain. In a procedure, appropriately and simply titled “hip replacement,” surgeons are able to remove defective parts of the joint and add prosthetic components in order to stabilize and strengthen the hip - and most importantly, minimize the patient’s pain.

While this procedure offers an amazing option for patients facing severe arthritis, those considering having the surgery usually have questions, specifically about total hip replacement recovery. Below we have addressed some of the most frequently asked questions concerning this topic.

Top FAQs Concerning Total Hip Replacement Recovery

1. Will my post-surgery pain be unmanageable?
Absolutely not! You will certainly have some level of pain coming out of a major surgery such as this one. However, you will also benefit from the relief of the constant, nagging hip pain that you came in with, so your specific and temporary post-surgery pain will certainly be manageable. The actual level of pain is different from patient to patient, but when you rate your pain (on a scale of 1 to 10), your post-op team will determine how much pain medication you’ll need to keep you comfortable. You can expect your pain from surgery to be most pronounced for the first couple of days following surgery and then to begin to dissipate.

2. What kind of pain medication will I be able to take after my procedure?
The effects of your spinal anesthesia from surgery will actually stay with you for several hours after your procedure is complete. Once that has worn off, you may be provided an intravenous pain medication, but more than likely, you will only experience a moderate level of pain that can be easily taken care of by a simple oral medication.  In that case, you will take the allotted dose by mouth and will then be prescribed a short-term supply of the medication for your recovery at home as well. Your doctor will know how to assess which type of medication will work best for you, how long you should take it, and how much you should take.

3. When is my first post-op visit?
If your surgeon used staples to close the incision, then you will have a post-op visit 2 to 4 weeks out from your surgery date. For sutures, a post-op visit is required in 2 weeks. During these visits, an assessment will be done to ensure that your total hip replacement recovery is going smoothly.

4. What about these sutures?
At your post-op visit (2 weeks from surgery date), you sutures will be removed in the office and Steri-Strips are applied to finish the healing process. The strips will wash off by themselves eventually, so you will not need to come in to have those removed.

5. How should I expect to be feeling after surgery?
It is completely normal to feel numbness around the incision site following surgery. You will also experience swelling in your legs (this could be all the way from your hip down to your ankle). In fact, you should not be alarmed if the swelling remains for up to six months! This is a normal part of the recovery process. You can minimize swelling by elevating your leg and applying ice.

6. How active should I be?
Before you leave the hospital, you will be given materials and instructions describing the measures to take to protect your new hip. We do not require you to follow the traditional hip precautions, but your surgeon will have specific instructions for you and they are extremely important to follow. In general, being active is very helpful because using your hip is essentially like doing physical therapy for the new joint. All of its muscles and tendons need to workout in order to regain strength, so we certainly encourage moderate exercise. However, anything that produces discomfort should be avoided and patients should never rush into activities that they may not be ready for. Remember that although you will be able to walk immediately following surgery, you will probably be walking with the assistance of a cane. So take your total hip replacement recovery seriously and consult with your surgeon before attempting any new activities or exercises.

Visit our website for a more complete list of FAQs concerning this topic.

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