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Medication Use Generally Decreases Post-Hip-Replacement Pain

Medication Use Generally Decreases Post-Hip-Replacement Pain

For most people undergoing major surgery is painful. Generally, the greater the initial pain due to more invasive surgical procedures, the longer the recovery time. Hip replacement surgery is an excellent example of this. Replacing a hip is an involved process from start to finish. Not only is it a significant operation, but adapting to a hip replacement also requires a lengthy recovery period and medications can help with hip pain along the way.

Hip Surgery Recovery

Physical Therapy

Besides post-operative healing, physical therapy is essential to help the body slowly ease back into a routine. Such therapy takes time, and rushing the recovery process may increase pain and slow overall recovery. On average, recovery time for a hip replacement is usually around twelve weeks but can take as long as six months.


Recovering from intense surgeries like a hip replacement also involves a lot of pain. Prescription pain relievers are used to ease any discomfort. These drugs are more potent than over-the-counter medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers are commonly used for pre-surgery pain, but the invasiveness of such an operation usually requires more potent relievers.

Prescription pain relievers are used by over half of patients that undergo hip replacement surgery. These medications can be addictive and expensive, but coping with pain is often tricky. The good news is that as the body heals from surgery, the need for such pain relievers reduces.

Decreased use takes time, though, in part because of the dramatic use of such medications before the surgery and immediately afterward. Generally, a year after the surgery, by which point recovery is usually complete, only 13-18% of patients are still regularly using medications. Reduced use of pain relievers means that the recovery is successful and that the pain itself is lessening. This stage is vital to ensure a return to life after a hip replacement.

Invasive surgeries are painful. The time before the operation and the recovery can blur the mind with the intensity of pain. Powerful medications help, but they can be addictive, and heavy use can be almost as numbing as the pain itself. Fortunately, though it takes time, studies have shown that as recovery continues, the need for pain medications reduces as well. It's a long, painful road, but when it comes to invasive surgeries like a hip replacement, time is essential.

Surgery Recovery

Recovering from hip surgery is a long slow process.  For the best results, follow all recommendations from your surgeon and physical therapist. Only use medications as prescribed.  If the medicines are not helping with your pain, contact your doctor instead of increasing your dosage.  

Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon

For more information on hip replacement surgery and hip pain medications, contact Dr. Dan Albright, an orthopedic surgeon, at 919-863-6808.

  • ABOS
  • AAOS
  • NCOA
  • PractEssentials