Hip Replacement: The Hospital Stay and Beyond

While in the Hospital After Your Hip Replacement

You will normally be in the hospital for three to seven days after hip replacement surgery. During this time, you will be working with the physical and occupational therapists to learn techniques to get out of bed safely, walk, and perform other activities of daily living. You will also learn certain positions to avoid.
Your family will be able to visit with you in your room at scheduled times.
The first few days of your recovery from hip replacement surgery can be uncomfortable, but the appropriate pain medicines will be provided to keep you as comfortable as possible. In many cases, a machine is used that allows you to deliver your own pain medicine through your IV.
If drains were placed in your joint, they are removed on the first or second day after the surgery. This is usually not too painful. If you have a catheter in your bladder, it is also removed at this time.
Your doctor and physical therapist will decide when you are ready to return home. Occasionally, it is necessary to continue physical therapy at a rehabilitation facility before going home.

Leaving the Hospital After Your Hip Replacement

When you leave the hospital after hip replacement, you will be given specific wound-care instructions and discharge instructions for activity level, medication, and any other necessary restrictions. Your healthcare provider will let you know of any symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
You will be given medication to prevent blood clots in your legs. This may be taken by mouth or by an injection. You should speak to your doctor about which form of medication will be used.
If non-absorbable stitches or staples were used, they will be removed approximately 10 to 14 days following the hip replacement surgery.
You will also be given very clear and specific instructions from your doctor and therapist about unsafe positions for your hip that can result in dislocation.
You will need to use a walker, a cane, or crutches for at least six weeks after surgery until your muscles are strong again. Other home equipment will also be provided to you on the day of discharge. This will include a raised toilet seat and a pillow, among other things. This equipment will be used for approximately three months after surgery, and helps make the transition to home easier and safer.
Depending on your situation, most people require a few months of physical therapy as part of recovery from a hip replacement to work on hip motion and strength. Therefore, supervised exercises will continue for about four to six weeks. This may require attending intensive physical therapy sessions at a rehabilitation hospital, or you may be able to arrange for a physical therapist to visit your home.
After this time period, your doctor and physical therapist will evaluate your progress and possibly recommend that you continue these exercises on your own to maintain overall conditioning. Physical therapy can be continued if necessary until your hip replacement recovery is complete.
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