Hip Surgery Precautions: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

The more you care for your hip after surgery, the faster your recovery may be. In addition to doing your physiotherapy exercises, there are many things you can do to help your hip heal.

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?

While your hip is healing

  • Do not lean forward while you sit down or stand up, and do not bend over more than 90 degrees (like the angle in a letter "L"). This means you cannot try to pick up something on the floor while you are sitting or bend down to tie your shoes. When you bend over, do not turn your feet inward.
  • Do not sit on low chairs, beds, or toilets. You may want to use a raised toilet for a while. Sit in chairs with arms.
  • Do not take baths until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Do not lift your knee higher than your hip.
  • Keep your knees apart while you sit or lie down.
  • Go slowly when you climb stairs. Make sure the lights are on, and have someone watch you, if possible. When you climb stairs:
    • Step up first with your unaffected leg. Then bring the affected leg up to the same step. Bring your crutches or cane up.
    • To go down stairs, reverse the order. First, put your crutches or cane on the lower step. Then bring the affected leg down to that step. Finally, step down with the unaffected leg.
  • Your affected leg should not cross the centre of your body toward the other leg.
    • Do not cross your legs.
    • Be very careful as you get in or out of bed or a car, so your leg does not cross that imaginary line in the middle of your body.
  • Do not rotate your leg too far in or out. Keep your toes pointing forward or slightly out.
  • You may want to sleep on your back. Do not reach down to pull up blankets when you lie in bed. Have a pillow between your legs when you turn over in bed.
  • You can ride in a car, but stop at least once every hour to get out and walk around.
  • When you get into a car, back up to the seat of the car, sit, and slide across the seat toward the middle of the car with your knees about 30 centimetres apart. A plastic bag on the seat can help you slide in and out of the car.
  • If your doctor recommends exercises, do them as directed. Cut back on your exercises if your muscles begin to ache, but do not stop doing them.

After your hip has healed

After your hip heals, you will probably be able to do most of your previous activities. Keep the following in mind when you are active and exercising:

  • Walking is one of the best things you can do. Use trekking poles while you walk to help you with balance. You can also swim and dance.
  • You can golf, but use a golf cart, and do not wear shoes with spikes.
  • You can bike on a flat road or on a stationary bike. Place the seat a little higher so your leg movement does not flex your hip too much. Avoid biking up hills.
  • Your doctor may advise you to stay away from activities that put stress on the joint. This includes sports such as tennis, football, and jogging.
  • Avoid activities where you might fall. These include horseback riding, skiing, and mountain biking.

Other precautions

  • Every added kilogram of body weight adds 3 kilograms of stress to your hip. Try to control your weight so you do not put more stress on your hip.
  • If you had hip replacement surgery, you may have to take antibiotics before dental work or other medical procedures. This will reduce the chance of infection around your new hip. Ask your doctor about this.

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 sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe pain in your chest.

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

  • You have signs that your hip may be dislocated, including:
    • Severe pain and not being able to stand.
    • A crooked leg that looks like your hip is out of position.
    • Not being able to bend or straighten your leg.
  • Your leg or foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • You cannot feel or move your leg.
  • 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 have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • Your incision comes open and begins to bleed, or the bleeding increases.
  • You feel like your heart is racing or beating irregularly.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.

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

  • You have problems using crutches, a walker, or a hip brace.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016