Today, hip replacement surgery has advanced to such a degree that it may be performed as a minimally invasive outpatient procedure with discharge on the very same day for some candidates. In other cases, patients may be discharged home in 5-6 days. Recovering in the comfort of home is what most patients would prefer, especially if they receive the right level care during the first few weeks or months after the procedure.
Here are a few tips when caring for someone recovering from hip replacement:
Use Assistive Devices: Patients are usually advised to get on their feet as soon as possible. Walking on the new hip may seem awkward at first and it is important that patients are supported by a caregiver as well as encouraged to use a cane or a walker. This will reduce the risk of falling and dislocating the hip.
Control Hip Pain: The caregiver must ensure the patient takes the pain medication as prescribed by the surgeon. Patients are more likely to actively participate in physical therapy when hip pain symptoms are well controlled.
Modify Activities: The physical therapist may teach the patient new ways to perform routine everyday activities that reduce stress on the hip joint and minimize hip pain. The caregiver should encourage the patient to keep working on these new movements until they become well-established habits.
Stress the Importance of Physical Therapy: Compliance with physical therapy is a very important part of the recovery process. The patient will also be given exercises and stretches to be performed at home. Not keeping physical therapy appointments or choosing not to do the exercises may result in slowed recovery, increased hip pain, or even failure of hip joint replacement.
Set Realistic Expectations: Hip replacement is a major surgery and a full recovery may take 4-6 months or longer. There may be occasional setbacks along the way and the caregiver should be alert for signs of depression or other negative emotions. It is important to encourage the patient to stay positive and focus on long-term goals.
If you or someone you love is suffering from severe hip joint pain or hip arthritis and is to undergo hip replacement, adopting the above-mentioned measures will optimize the recovery process.
Dr. Domb is a nationally-recognized orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, shoulder and knee. Patients from across the country consistently travel to Chicago to seek Dr. Domb's expertise. For more information please call (833) USA-HIPS.