If you’ve suffered from hip pain you know that it’s more than just “a little trouble getting around.” The hip joint is crucial for mobility and not being able to utilize it properly, whether due to illness or injury, can make people feel trapped. A total hip replacement can offer a lot of relief and give people a chance to be independent and confident again, but it is a major surgery that you need to prepare for.
One of the biggest questions people have about total hip replacement is recovery time. While it is possible to move and even walk (with assistance) immediately after surgery the healing process can take about 3-6 weeks. And your body could keep on healing for a year after surgery, getting used to the new prosthetic. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
One of the things you can do to help your recovery is to monitor your weight and diet. Eating healthy is always advisable, but when it comes to a hip replacement it can also help you stay at a healthy weight. Excess weight can put a lot of strain on your hips in general and it also puts a strain on your new prosthetic which can reduce the lifespan of the device. If you know you’ll be undergoing surgery in the future, the best time to start making sure you give yourself the best possible shot is before going in.
Another thing to plan out in advance is transportation. How you are getting to and from the hospital? How will you get around if you need to post-surgery? Though you are encouraged to walk and move driving isn’t advised, especially because you will most likely be prescribed pain medications. Make sure that whatever option you choose, a friend or taxi service, that the car can accommodate the walker or crutches you may be using and that you give yourself extra time to get in and out of the car safely.
In discussing the process your doctor may want you to begin some sort of physical therapy post-op. While it’s not needed in all cases there is a strong indication that physical therapy after a total hip replacement can lead to shorter recovery times and stronger use of the new hip. But even with the benefits, some patients find this process difficult or painful. Some of the things that are focused on are walking, driving, and climbing stairs. It can be frustrating to be an adult and feel you have to “learn to walk again,” but those feelings are common and normal. Most patients who complete physical therapy are grateful that they stuck it out and feel better for having done it.
A total hip replacement is a very big decision and it does come with a lot of considerations, but with your team behind you and your willingness to do the work and not give up, it can mean a world of difference.