Hip Replacement Surgery: What to Expect at the Hospital

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Your Recovery

After hip replacement surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. In a few hours, you will go to your hospital room. You may see a metal triangle called a trapeze over your bed. You can use this to help move yourself around in bed. You will be very tired and will want to rest. Your nurse may also help turn you as you rest.

You will probably still have a tube that drains urine from your bladder (urinary catheter), and you will probably get fluids through a tube in your vein called an IV. You may also have a drain near the cut (incision) on your hip.

You may not feel hungry. You may feel sick to your stomach or constipated for a couple of days. This is normal. Your nurse may give you stool softeners or laxatives to help with constipation.

You may have stockings that put pressure on your legs to prevent blood clots. Your nurse may also give you medicines and exercise instructions to help prevent clots.

Most people get out of bed with help on the day of surgery or the next day. You will probably spend 2 to 7 days in the hospital after your surgery.

Having surgery can be stressful. The information below tells you what to expect. Each person has a different experience and recovers at a different pace.

What will happen in the hospital?

Pain and pain medicine

  • You will receive medicine to help control pain. Some pain medicines are given through an IV, and some are taken by mouth.
  • Take it as needed, but remember that it is easier to prevent pain before it starts than to stop it once it has started.
  • If you still have a lot of pain after you take your medicine, tell your nurse. You may need new medicine or to get the medicine in a different form.
  • You may also have some mild pain in your back. Changing your position in bed may help this. Tell your nurse you want to turn, and he or she will help you.

Other medicines

  • Your doctor will probably give you blood thinners to prevent blood clots in your leg. You take this medicine during your hospital stay, and you may also take it after you go home.
  • Your doctor may give you antibiotics for about 24 hours after surgery.


  • Your rehabilitation (rehab) will probably begin the day after your surgery. Your physiotherapist will get you started. It may be painful to exercise at first, but your nurse will give you pain medicine if you need it.
  • Over the next few days, your physiotherapist will help you walk, go up and down stairs, and get in and out of bed and chairs. He or she will help improve the range of motion and strength in your hip. Your physiotherapist will teach you positions and motions that will help keep your hip from popping out of the socket (dislocating). This is a very important part of your therapy.
  • How quickly you regain strength and motion and do things on your own depends on how well you follow your physiotherapy. Your physiotherapist will teach you the exercises, but you must do them yourself.
  • An occupational therapist will work with you. He or she will teach you how to bathe, dress, and do daily activities. You may need tools to help with everyday activities. Tools include shower stools, shoehorns, and long-handled sponges.


  • You will get liquids at first, but you can begin to eat your normal diet when you feel better. If your stomach is upset, your nurse will probably bring you bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • You may have more fibre added to your meals to prevent constipation.

Incision care

  • You will have a bandage over your incision. Your nurse will care for this.

Other instructions

  • Your nurse or respiratory therapist will have you do breathing and coughing exercises to prevent problems such as pneumonia. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and slowly breathe out through your mouth. Do this 3 times, and then cough 2 times.
  • You may have a device that you suck air through to help keep your lungs healthy (incentive spirometer). Use this as your nurse or therapist tells you to.

When should you call for help?

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have a cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • 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 in pain, or your pain does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • 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.

Where can you learn more?

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

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