July 22, 2021

Hip Replacements – What to Expect and How to Prepare

If you’re scheduled for hip replacement surgery, you might be feeling anxious and nervous, maybe even scared. This is normal. The key is to be prepared in advance so that you know what to expect throughout the process. Your medical team will come up with a treatment plan that includes following you through to recovery.

Planning and preparing for an upcoming hip replacement surgery can help your recovery go more smoothly and quickly. The prep usually begins several weeks before the actual surgery. Your hip doctor may advise you to make changes personally and throughout your home to help ensure a successful outcome. These changes include maintaining good physical health before you have the operation to increase your upper body strength- improving your ability to use a walker or crutches after surgery. 

Ways to prepare for your upcoming hip replacement surgery:

  • Stretch and strengthen your muscles. Certain exercises can strengthen the muscles around the hip to help with your recovery.
  • Lose weight. If you are overweight, your hip doctor may recommend you lose a few pounds to decrease the chances of post-surgical complications.
  • Stop smoking. The nicotine can affect blood flow and slow down recovery, possibly causing complications.
  • Adjust the height of your bed. You should consider adjusting your bed height so that getting in and out of it is more manageable after surgery.
  • Install grab bars and railings. These can help prevent falling in the bathroom, which makes it safer for you during recovery.
  • Plan for using walking aids. You will need a walker, crutches, or cane during your recovery time to assist you during the healing process.
  • Rearrange frequently used items. It is wise to move commonly used items to your waist level so that you avoid bending and squatting.
  • Remove tripping hazards. Eliminate slip hazards such as electrical cords, loose rugs, pet items, and toys.
  • Invest in a long-handled shoehorn. Since bending over will be a challenge for a while, investing in a long-handed shoehorn will help to prevent you from having to bend over to put on your shoes.
  • Start prescribed medication. Your doctor may instruct you to start taking new medicines or supplements to prevent post-surgical anemia.  
  • Avoid blood thinners. Check with your doctor for advice on if you should stop taking blood thinners beforehand.  
  • Arrange for a driver. You will not be able to drive for a few weeks after your surgery, so arrange for a family member or friend to drive you around when needed. You can even ask your surgeon for a temporary tag for accessible parking spaces if necessary.
  • Further blood tests. Your hip doctor may require additional blood tests to help monitor your condition before the surgery.

There are three major types of hip replacement surgeries. Total hip (most common), partial hip, and hip resurfacing. The goal of hip replacement surgery is to relieve pain and improve joint mobility. It helps to restore a person’s potential to perform their normal daily activities safely. If you and your orthopedic surgeon agree that it is in your best interest to have hip replacement surgery, they’ll prescribe a treatment plan that benefits you having a successful recovery.  

Things to expect the day of the surgery:

  • Upon arrival at the hospital, you will need to put on a gown.
  • Depending on the type of hip replacement surgery you are scheduled to have, you will be given either a spinal block or general anesthetic.    
  • You may be given a nerve block in and around your joint to help with pain after the surgery.
  • The surgery will take a few hours to perform.
  • Diseased and damaged bone and cartilage are removed, replacing them with prosthetics and leaving the healthy bone intact.
  •  After surgery, you are moved to a recovery area until the anesthesia wears off, where you will continue to be monitored.
  • You will need to breathe deeply, cough, or blow into a device to keep fluid out of your lungs.
  • During recovery, you may need to stay up to two days or can possibly leave the same day, depending on your doctor’s assessment.  
  • Before leaving the hospital, you and your caregiver will get tips on caring for your new hip.  
  • You will be scheduled a follow-up appointment six to twelve weeks post-surgery so the doctor can assess if your hip is healing properly.
  • Over time, you will be able to resume your normal daily routine. Your strength will continue to improve between six to twelve months.  

Recovering from hip replacement surgery will take time and patience. So, if you are looking for an orthopedic surgeon near you to advise on if you may need a hip replacement, Dr. Paul Buzhardt is the hip doctor for you. His experience in treating patients makes him highly qualified to do the job. He and his staff will work hard to alleviate your concerns about your surgery.