Dislocated Hip: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your hip is a large and fairly stable joint. Normally it takes a hard fall, a car crash, or something else of great force to make the thigh bone slip out of its socket (dislocate). But if you have had hip replacement surgery, your hip can more easily slip out of position. This is more common during the first few months after the surgery.

After your doctor puts your dislocated hip back into normal position, you will need to use a walking aid or hip brace for several weeks or months while the hip heals. You will need to follow special hip precautions to avoid dislocating your hip again. Your doctor may recommend exercises to strengthen the hip joint and your legs. Rest and home treatment can help you heal.

If your hip becomes dislocated again, contact your doctor. You will need to go to a hospital or clinic to have your hip put back in position.

You may have had a sedative to help you relax. You may be unsteady after having sedation. It can take a few hours for the medicine's effects to wear off. Common side effects of sedation include nausea, vomiting, and feeling sleepy or tired.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If the doctor gave you a sedative:
    • For 24 hours, don't do anything that requires attention to detail. It takes time for the medicine's effects to completely wear off.
    • For your safety, do not drive or operate any machinery that could be dangerous. Wait until the medicine wears off and you can think clearly and react easily.
  • Your doctor will give you safety precautions to keep your hip centred in its socket during the healing period. Be sure to follow these precautions.
    • Keep your knees and toes pointed forward when you sit in a chair, walk, or stand.
    • Do not sit with your legs crossed.
    • Do not bend at the waist more than 90º. Be careful when leaning or when moving in bed to keep your legs as straight ahead as possible.
  • If you have a hip brace, wear it as directed. Do not remove it unless your doctor says you can. If you remove the brace to shower, be extremely careful. Follow hip precautions to limit hip movement.
  • Rest your hip as much as you can. You will need to change your activities to avoid movements that irritate the hip.
  • If your hip is swollen, put ice or a cold pack on it 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.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If your doctor recommends exercises, do them as directed.

When should you call for help?

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

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

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

  • You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • You have signs that your hip may be dislocated again, including:
    • Severe pain.
    • A crooked leg that looks like the hip bone 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.

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

  • You have problems wearing your 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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