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What To Expect After Hip Replacement Surgery

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Are you considering hip replacement? Already decided? It’s helpful to know what to expect during recovery.

Pain And Discomfort

Hip replacement surgery hurts. You can anticipate significant discomfort after a total hip replacement, but not for a couple of days. During the first 24 hours or so following surgery, there will still be slowly diminishing levels of anesthesia and surgical pain medication in your system. You’ll feel out of it, but not in much pain.

After surgery, you’ll be given antibiotics to prevent infections, as well as medication to control pain and prevent blood clots. Most people stay in the hospital overnight, but some may be able to go home the same day. The length of your hospital stay is usually determined by your overall health and fitness.

You’ll get out of bed on the first day, and your mobility will be very limited. Others will need to help you in and out of bed, use the toilet, and other daily activities.

On the third day, the healing process really begins, and it’s painful.

Why? After orthopaedic surgery like total hip replacement, the body sends inflammatory cells to the injured area to help with the healing process. For most people, these cells are at their highest levels from 48 to 72 hours after surgery. During this period, you will experience significant swelling and pain. Anti-inflammatory medication and ice packs help, and eventually, the swelling and pain diminish.

Some individuals experience some lung congestion the day after surgery and for the first few days will need to focus on breathing deeply to clear the lungs and aid the healing process.

Walking Again And Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

Your orthopedic surgeon will tell you how important it is to get up and move. Physical therapy is your key to a successful recovery and achieving a maximum range of motion. Take slow, steady steps — every day.

Before being discharged from the hospital, you’ll work with a physical therapist several times to learn some specific exercises to regain full hip movement. Initially, you will learn how to move your feet up and down while flexing your leg muscles to keep blood circulating, and after that, you’ll learn other exercises — using your walker or crutches.

After you leave the hospital you’ll probably work with a physical therapist three or four times a week, for several weeks, to strengthen your hip and muscles, and show you how to re-establish daily routines and activities.

The typical goals of the recovery process — whether they happen at a rehabilitation facility or your home — are:

  • Getting out of bed on your own
  • Manageable pain level
  • The ability to eat, drink, sleep, and use the toilet
  • The ability to walk with the assistance of a cane, walker, or crutches
  • The ability to do, on your own, exercises to maintain and enhance flexibility

Usually, around six or seven weeks after surgery, when you’ve regained full hip movement, you’ll probably be able to resume driving. Depending on the physical nature of your job, your doctor may give you the okay to return to work at around six or seven weeks as well.

Don’t push yourself — but do your exercises diligently and consistently and you’ll be rewarded. As you improve your hip mobility, there should be a noticeable improvement in your comfort, and less hip pain, compared to pre-surgery. Most people who have hip replacement surgery report feeling better and being able to get back to normal activities within a few weeks. But some hip replacement patients have complications.

What Are the Risks?

Getting a hip replacement is major surgery, and like other major surgical procedures that have become fairly common, most hip replacements go well.

The most common complications and risks:

  • Osteolysis. When local inflammation destroys the bone and loosens the prosthetic device (artificial hip joint), leading to dislocation. Any particle debris — plastic, metal, or cement – can cause osteolysis.
  • Dislocation. When the tendons, tissues, and ligaments surrounding the hip joint — all of which work in tandem to keep the bone in place — are opened up during surgery, they become less stable. This can result in the new hip loosening from the implant site, and dislocating.
  • Infection. Any surgery poses infection risks.
  • Leg Length. Because of standing a certain way because of hip pain, it may feel strange to stand up straight. Sometimes the leg actually is longer or shorter and you may need gait training, a heel lift, and sometimes additional surgery.
  • Blood Clots. Surgeries can sometimes create blood clots, and when they form inside a vein and don’t dissolve on their own, they can cause a range of symptoms, including, pain, weakness, sudden difficulty speaking, lightheadedness, and chest pain,
  • Debris from Implant. Metal-on-metal devices can cause a range of complications when metallic particles begin to shed and enter the bloodstream and surrounding tissues.
  • Device Failure. Sometimes the new hip device fails, for a variety of reasons. The incident of device failure depends on the materials used, with all-metal joints experiencing higher failure rates.

There are several other possible side effects and/or complications that can unfold after hip replacement surgery, including an allergic reaction to the implant. According to the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Arthritis Foundation, some people still have moderate limitations five years after hip surgery, but most (over 70%) are doing well after five years.

Filing A Product Liability Or Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If your hip replacement device failed in some way, wasn’t implanted properly, or you have experienced some other adverse reaction or injury as the direct result of your hip replacement surgery, you may have an orthopedic malpractice claim.

In general, the factors considered in medical malpractice claims include:

  • The duration and severity of your complications
  • The costs associated with additional surgeries and treatments
  • Lost income as a result of complications
  • Whether the injuries and/or disfigurement are temporary or permanent

These lawsuits also consider other nonmedical impacts on your life — other kinds of losses — that are the result of your injury.

The professionals at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. want to hear your story, learn about your situation, and explore legal options with you. Contact us toll-free (24 hours) at 866-MICH-LAW or use our convenient online contact form to schedule your free consultation. Our law firm never charges a fee unless we win a settlement for you.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Mark is a freelance writer living near Concord, New Hampshire. He works with a range of businesses and professional associations in their strategic messaging and content development projects. He also provides content development services to nonprofits and government agencies, helping them distill complex topics and make information more accessible across multiple platforms. When he's not writing, he enjoys working outside and finds mowing his fields on a warm sunny day to be a peak experience.



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