Preparing For Life After Hip Replacement
Total Hip Replacement Precautions To Get Yourself & Your Home Ready For Your Discharge After Surgery
Before coming for hip replacement surgery, you should make some slight modifications to your home so that you can have a comfortable and safe stay once you return from the hospital:
- Non-slip mats in your bathroom/toilet and if possible, install hand rails to provide additional support
- A stable shower chair for bathing
- A stable chair which is not too low so that it is easier for you to get up from a sitting position
- Prepare a toilet seat raise if you have a low seating toilet. This can be supplied by the hospital upon your discharge
- Removing all loose items on the floor, including small pieces of furniture or toys that might cause falls
- A temporary living space on the same floor because you might have difficulty going up and down stairs in the first 3 weeks after surgery
Taking Care Of The New Hip & Avoiding Complications
- Keep the wound clean and dry in the first 2 weeks until it has completely healed
- Watch out for infection of the wound – if you have fever, increased pain at the wound site and increased bleeding from the wound, inform us immediately
- Watch out for deep vein thrombosis. This is a complication in which blood clots develop in your legs and can potentially travel up to the lungs and cause breathlessness. Look out for increased swelling and pain in your legs/calves. Inform us immediately if this happens
- You should have been taught some simple exercises by the physiotherapist in hospital – continue doing these exercises at home
- Make sure you continue seeing a physiotherapist after the hospital discharge as the first few weeks after surgery are critical for improving the range of motion in your knee and getting your walking ability back
- It is normal to feel more tired than normal after exercising or after a physiotherapy session as you likely have anaemia (slightly low blood haemoglobin levels as you have lost some blood during surgery). Rest and do not push yourself too much if you feel tired. These symptoms usually disappear after 3-4 weeks when your blood haemoglobin levels return to normal
Specific Total Hip Replacement Precautions
To avoid dislocation of the hip replacement, adhere to the following total hip replacement precautions:
- Do not cross your legs
- Do not bend your hips more than a right angle (90°)
- Do not turn your feet excessively inward or outward
- Use a pillow between your legs at night when sleeping until you are advised by your orthopaedic surgeon that you can remove it
How Your New Hip Is Different
After hip replacement, the original pain that troubled you will have significantly reduced. You will have swelling around the hip and lower limb initially and this will reduce gradually over time and it can take up to 12 weeks to resolve. You will be walking with a limp until the muscles around your hip recover from the trauma of the surgery. The limp usually goes away after 3-6 months. Most people also feel some numbness in the skin around the incision. This will recover with time.
Sometimes after a hip replacement, one leg may feel longer or shorter than the other. We will try to equalize your lower limb lengths but may lengthen or shorten your limb slightly in order to optimize the stability and biomechanics of the hip. Some patients might feel more comfortable with a shoe lift after surgery.
Your new hip may activate metal detectors required for security in airports and some buildings. We will be giving you an implant card which you can show to the airport agents and this card will have details about your surgery and your surgeon.
The performance and satisfaction that you will have with your hip replacement increases with time and reaches a peak at 12 months post surgery. Enjoy your new hip!
Protecting Your Hip Replacement
There are several things you can do to protect your hip replacement and extend the life of your hip implant.
- Avoid high impact sports that involve running, jumping and twisting motions. Ideal activities that you can participate in include walking, swimming, hiking, cycling and training on the elliptical/cross-trainer machine
- Make sure your dentist knows that you have a hip replacement. You will need to take antibiotics before any dental procedure