While the hip replacement operation may get most of your attention, how you rehab in the days and weeks following your surgery plays a significant role in your recovery. Doing some activities when tolerable and avoiding other risky actions can make a huge difference in your functional ability and pain levels as you progress through your rehab. And while every patient should get an individualized recovery plan from their surgeon, we’re going to share some general tips for having a successful recovery after hip replacement surgery in today’s blog.
Do’s and Don’ts After Hip Replacement Surgery
Again, these are just some good general guidelines, but they are no substitute for the individualized advice your surgical team can provide based on your specific operation. Dr. Botero uses a minimally invasive anterior approach, so if you’re undergoing a traditional posterior surgery, these tips will not apply. With that said, here are some things you should do and should avoid during your hip replacement recovery.
- Do Be Prepared To Test Your New Hip – With Dr. Botero’s minimally invasive technique, most patients are up and testing their new hip within hours of surgery. You’ll be carefully monitored with staff by your side, but be prepared to walk down a hallway, go up and down stairs and practice entering and exiting a vehicle a few hours after your operation. We want to ensure you’re capable of performing these tasks before being discharged.
- Don’t Just Lie In Bed – Lying in bed or remaining immobile for long periods after surgery can cause the joint to stiffen. This is why we push for walking and other movement tasks within hours of the operation. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that you are active but don’t overdo it after hip replacement surgery, so talk to your surgical team about finding that balance. Learn which movements are helpful and which ones to avoid after your operation.
- Do Keep Your Post-Op Diet In Mind – Eating healthy foods and staying hydrated plays an integral role in your recovery, so make healthy choices after your operation. Have some healthy, easy-to-reheat meals prepared in your refrigerator before surgery so you have some easy options after the operation, and keep a water bottle close by throughout your recovery. Staying hydrated can help increase blood flow to recovering body parts while also helping to prevent constipation. Proteins, vegetables, lean meats, fruit and whole grains will be your friend after hip replacement.
- Don’t Over Rely On Pain Meds – Managing pain medications after hip replacement can be a little tricky, so again it’s worthwhile to discuss post-op pain management with your surgical team. Pain medications should help to make your stay tolerable, but they shouldn’t be relied on to eliminate pain. They are a piece of the pain management puzzle, but they shouldn’t be the only option. Work your way towards over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and ask about ice therapy to reduce swelling. Over-relying on pain meds can lead to dependence and addiction.
- Do Your Physical Therapy Exercises – Regular controlled movement is key after hip replacement surgery to prevent stiffness and increase range of motion. Your surgeon or physical therapist will walk you through your PT exercises, but eventually it will be on you to do them daily. These exercises will help to prevent blood clots and keep your muscle strength intact, so make it a point to do your exercises daily.
- Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations – One thing Dr. Botero emphasizes with his hip replacement patients is to manage their expectations following an operation. The anterior approach leads to reduced recovery time, less pain and less potential for complications, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be back to full health in a week. It’s still going to take some time and work on your end, and if you’re aware of this and willing to put in the work, we’re confident you’ll have a successful rehab. If you’re unsure about your recovery timeline or what to expect after the operation, talk to your surgical team.
For more tips, or if you have questions about hip replacement, reach out to Dr. Botero’s office today.