Hip replacement surgery is a good option for people with unbearable joint pain and stiffness—especially when other options have proven ineffective. A study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery suggests that by 2030 the number of hip replacement surgeries in the U.S. is expected to reach roughly 635,000 per year (a 71% increase). The procedure is safer, and recovery is faster today than ever before, thanks to technological and medical advancements. But even though hip replacement surgeries are common and safe, they're still a major procedure—and it's normal for patients to feel worried before the operation.
Pre and Post Surgery
For this reason, it's essential to understand what the surgery includes and what each step entails. Here's what to expect when counting down to a hip surgery.
Before the Hip Replacement Procedure
Before the day of the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon will take a thorough medical history to determine the best surgical approach. Lab tests may be ordered to ensure any underlying health issues are stable, and the patient is ready for surgery.
On the day of the operation, arrive at the hospital a few hours early to fill out the necessary paperwork and prep for the surgery. The actual procedure generally takes around 1-2 hours—subject to several variables, such as the approach used.
Immediately After Surgery
After surgery, the patient is transferred to a hospital room for a few days. While there, pain levels and vitals are close monitoring to ensure the patient is stable. Some patients are encouraged to get out of bed the same day. A physical therapist is assigned to design an exercise program. These exercises begin at the hospital and are to be followed after discharge.
Depending on several variables, a doctor may discharge a patient to either a rehabilitation center or back home. Due to the limited mobility from a hip replacement surgery, a patient needs to have a caregiver during the rehab period.
During the first three weeks, the physical therapist helps the patient with light strengthening activities, walking tolerance, and the hip joint's range of motion. The pain level at this stage is uncomfortable but bearable. With the continuation of therapy, endurance improves, and movement gets easier. Patients usually resume most normal activities—save for heavy tasks—by the 12th week.
Although there will be some degree of stiffness—especially after sitting for long or in the morning—the uncomfortable feeling gradually fades in about a year. But even after the hip feels normal again, it's advisable to be cautious and avoid falls or other strenuous activities that may damage the new joint.