Having hip replacement can feel stressful. Many patients still think that this surgical procedure is a major endeavor that will require them to stay in the hospital or a rehab center for several days. Just over a decade ago, that may have been true. Today, though, hip replacement surgery is routinely performed as an outpatient procedure. It is one of the most common orthopedic procedures done today, and has a high success rate. The most frequent feedback patients have about their hip replacement is that they wish they had done it sooner.
Now, hip replacement surgery can be life changing, yes. It is better to have it done than to procrastinate, yes. And also, it’s still a major operation. There is a recovery period afterward in which patients will need to manage discomfort and work toward rehabilitation. Here, we discuss the steps that can be taken before surgery to make the recovery period more successful.
- Lose Weight
This may not be a necessary step for every patient but, when one holds excess weight, their hips are holding excess stress. Excess weight can also increase surgical risks. As soon as a patient knows that they will have hip surgery, they can benefit from engaging in low-impact exercise and consuming healthy, lower calorie foods. Losing weight before surgery also sets the stage for maintaining a healthy weight after the new hip has been built. This only helps to prolong the life of the new hip.
- Optimize General Health
In the months before hip surgery, it is important to take measures to minimize the risk of any kind of infection. If you have time, your doctor may suggest scheduling a routine dental exam and cleaning to reduce the risk of oral infection. It is beneficial to also practice good skin care and general hygiene to reduce the risk of infection near the incision after surgery. If you have an existing health condition for which you take medication, your surgeon may recommend some changes as needed to reduce the risk of bleeding during and after surgery.
- Do Some “Home Design”
Patients rely on a walker for at least a few days after their hip replacement. Depending on the layout of furniture in the home, some redecorating may be in order. Physical therapists often advise patients to remove rugs from areas the patient will frequent so they can move more freely through their space. It may be necessary to avoid climbing too many stairs after hip replacement, as well. If possible, arrange to sleep on the first floor of your home until you can comfortably lift and lower yourself.
- Arrange for Help
There are a few tasks that patients need help with as they recover from hip replacement surgery. One, and a very important one at that, is taking their prescribed medication at designated times. Prescription pain medication is essential for maintaining comfort during the first week of recovery. Some doses may be due throughout the night when it would be difficult for you to get up on your own. A helper can set a timer and give you your medication to ensure you do not experience unnecessary pain. You may need some help getting in and out of bed, and up and down from chairs. Due to slight instability in your gait, it is beneficial to have someone nearby whenever you move around to provide some safety and stability.
- Commit to Physical Therapy
A physical therapist may visit you at the surgical center the day of your surgery to help you get out of bed safely. Patients usually begin their course of rehabilitative physical therapy within a week of their procedure. This helps improve mobility and strength quickly. Physical therapy may be uncomfortable at times. While low-impact, it can feel strenuous to get to know your new hip. With commitment, the exercises get easier as your muscles regain strength and flexibility.
Orthopedic Associates of Long Island has multiple locations to serve you. Contact us on our main line at 631.689.6698 to schedule your consultation.