What to Expect After Hip Replacement

As your doctor and all your research may have told you: Hip replacement surgery can dramatically change your quality of life. Although your pain won’t go away immediately, and it may remain difficult to get around for a few weeks after surgery, the long-term benefits of hip replacement are many. They include: 

  • A significant decrease or even complete elimination of hip pain

  • Improved joint movement 

  • Increased strength and coordination of torso and leg

  • Enhanced ability to live an active lifestyle

  • Better quality of life

Recovery from hip replacement surgery does take time and effort. Physical therapy is one of the most crucial aspects of restoring your strength and mobility, and it begins within a day or two of your surgery. Here’s what to expect after a hip replacement: 

Early recovery 

In the immediate aftermath of your surgery, you may feel like lying in bed and watching daytime television. But you can expect a physical therapist to show up at your bedside and interrupt those plans as early as Day 1. The goal at this stage of recovery is to decrease the risk of clotting, ease pain and swelling, and aid in the mobility of your new joint. Your therapist will help you sit up in bed, maybe walk a step or two, and assist you with gentle exercises (such as ankle pumps, ankle rotations, quad sets, and gluteal sets) that can be done in bed. 

Transitioning out of the hospital 

By Day 3 or Day 4, you should be able to walk from the bed to the bathroom without assistance. You may also be walking longer distances with the aid of crutches or a walker.  At this point, you will likely be discharged from the hospital. Some patients go straight home, while others go to a rehab facility to continue the recovery process. For the elderly, those who require additional medical attention, or those who would otherwise benefit from the services offered at a skilled nursing facility, inpatient rehabilitation is usually the best option.  For those who opt to return home after the hospital, outpatient rehab facilities are staffed by trained and certified physical therapists and equipped with everything needed to help patients make a full recovery.   

Length of recovery time from hip replacement surgery

Regardless of whether you recover at home or at a rehab facility, following the instructions of your physical therapist is key to a full recovery. While each person is different and requires a customized rehabilitation plan, in general, physical therapists prescribe a combination of standing exercises to help improve balance and strength, daily walking and stair climbing to increase endurance and aid in circulation and joint mobility, and additional exercises chosen to help each individual return to the specific activities they love to do. 

The length of time it takes to recover from hip replacement surgery is different for each person. Most people experience rapid recovery in three to four months and then continue to improve at a slower rate for a year. While it may be tempting to stop your therapy once you’re up and moving around again, it’s important to continue your therapeutic program.  Working with a skilled and experienced physical therapist who can guide your rehabilitation and monitor your progress is the surest way to achieve a full recovery. 

Recovering from hip replacement surgery? We can help!

At Bella Vista Health Center, we offer customized hip replacement rehab and therapy programs designed to help each patient recover as quickly as possible so they can get back to doing the things they love. Our skilled and experienced therapists and support staff are dedicated to quality care for each patient, and our 5-star skilled nursing facility provides a range of services and amenities to maximize patient comfort as well. For more information on our rehabilitation programs or to schedule a visit, give us a call today.