A hip replacement surgery can be a scary procedure, but if you know what to expect it can help ease some of the anxiety and prepare you for life afterwards. So what should expect before and after the surgery?
Just like any other surgery, they will give you a time and place to arrive. You’ll get all checked in with hospital registration and then they will show you to a room. A nurse will come help you get all ready to go. They will give you a hospital gown and ask you to remove your clothes for surgery (it’s normal!). The nurse will talk through the process and ask you a ton of questions about your current health and then get ready to give you a general anesthetic or a spinal block, which is used to numb the lower half of your body.
Immediately following the surgery, you’ll be moved into recovery until all the meds wear off. The doctor will step out and update your family and loved ones on how the surgery went and what all they accomplished. While you’re in recovery, they will just be monitoring your blood pressure, pulse, pain and comfort level, and decide if you need any additional medications.
The big thing they will be keeping an eye on after surgery is the potential for blood clots. You have an increased risk for blood clots in your legs after surgery so the doctors will take a couple steps to help prevent them:
- Get moving: Your hospital staff will encourage you to sit up and even try to get you to walk with crutches pretty soon after surgery. Most patients experience this on the day after surgery.
- Pressure: Elastic compression stockings or inflatable air sleeves are often used to help keep blood moving in the legs both during and after surgery. They are designed to keep blood from pooling in the leg veins and help reduce your chance for clots.
- Medications: Some surgeons may prescribe blood thinners to help prevent clots, but it all depends on your lifestyle. Some may need blood thinners longer than others.
Physical therapy after a hip replacement can be crucial to getting a patient back to doing what they love. You might even leave the hospital with some exercises to do at home. If you want to regain movement and strength, activity and exercise must be an important part of your day. The physical therapists will guide you through a strength building and mobility exercises. They will even help you learn to use a walking aid if necessary. As you build strength over time with therapy, you will be able to walk again without assistance.
Just about six to 12 weeks after your surgery, you’ll meet with your surgeon again to make sure your hip is healing the way it should be. They will see all your progress from physical therapy and if all is well, you’ll get the green light to resume normal activities, but that doesn’t mean you should stop seeing your physical therapist. They will help you improve strength and teach you to maintain strength in the long term.