Hip Arthroscopy: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Arthroscopy is a way to find problems and do surgery inside a joint without making a large cut (incision). Your doctor put a lighted tube with a tiny camera—called an arthroscope, or scope—and surgical tools through small incisions on the side of your hip.

You will feel tired for several days. Your hip will be swollen, and you may notice that your skin is a different colour near the incisions. The swelling is normal and will start to go away in a few days. Keeping your leg level with or above your heart will help with swelling and pain.

You will probably need about 6 weeks to recover. If your doctor repaired damaged tissue, recovery will take longer. You may have to limit your activity until your hip strength and movement return to normal. You may also be in a physical rehabilitation (rehab) program.

You may be able to return to a desk job or your normal routine in a few days. But if you do physical labour, it may be as long as 2 months before you can go back to work.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Your doctor will tell you how often and how much you can move your hip and when and how much you can walk. You may have a walker or crutches.
  • Your doctor may give you specific instructions on when you can do your normal activities again, such as driving and going back to work.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for lifting things or using your hip.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fibre, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • You may have dressings over one or more incisions. A dressing helps an incision heal and protects it. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.
  • If your incisions are open to the air, keep the area clean and dry.
  • If you have strips of tape on the incisions, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Pat the incisions dry. Don't swim or take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

Exercise

  • Hip rehabilitation is a series of exercises you do after your surgery. This helps you get back your hip's range of motion and strength. You will work with your doctor and physiotherapist to plan this exercise program. To get the best results, you need to do the exercises correctly and as often and as long as your doctor tells you.
  • Stop any activity that causes sharp pain. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about what sports or other exercise you can do.

Ice and elevation

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your hip area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your foot or toes.
  • Your foot turns cold or changes colour.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • The incision starts to bleed, and blood soaks through the bandage. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incisions.
    • Pus draining from the incisions.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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