Getting Back on Your Feet
For the first week or two following surgery, activity is very limited. After this initial period, crutches are needed for up to six weeks, and physical therapy and exercise begin (lasting for 3-6 months). Depending on your age, overall condition prior to surgery, and steadfastness in following the prescribed rehabilitation regimen, recovery from hip replacement surgery will take anywhere from 2-6 months.
Possible postoperative complications from hip replacement surgery include:
- Hip dislocation
(most common complication)—occurs when the ball portion of the prosthesis dislocates from its normal position in the hip
- Blood clots
- Swelling or bleeding
- Loosening of the artificial joint within the hip socket (the most common long-term postoperative problem)
These postoperative complications can often be treated with medication or other nonsurgical techniques. Sometimes, however, follow-up surgery may be necessary. If the artificial joint is damaged, a second hip replacement may be required. And, even with the current advancements in artificial hip technology, the artificial hip liner or the artificial hip itself will wear out and require replacement within two decades.
Here are some things you can do to prevent complications and improve the longevity of an artificial hip:
- Prior to surgery, arrange your home so that during your initial recovery period, you can keep your movement as safe as possible.
- Follow all of your doctor's and therapist's orders as to what physical activity you can and cannot do, especially while recuperating.
- Diligently follow your physical therapy and prescribed home exercise regimen.
- If you develop any unusual pain in the new joint or develop any kind of an infection, contact your primary care doctor or your surgeon immediately.
- After your rehabilitation period is over, continue with your home-prescribed physical therapy exercises.
Avoid activities or sports that can cause you to fall or that put a large amount of stress on your joints (jogging,
, racquetball, singles tennis, basketball, skiing). Instead, opt for exercises that put limited stress on joints (
, or doubles tennis).