You will experience moderate to severe pain after surgery. However, patient-controlled analgesia (PCA), intravenous (IV), or epidural analgesics are effective in controlling post-operative pain. The pain should gradually decrease, and by the third day after surgery, oral analgesic medications may be sufficient to control your pain. Try to schedule your pain medications about one half hour before walking or changing position.
Results with a hip prosthesis have been excellent. The operation relieves pain and stiffness symptoms, and most patients (over 80%) need no help walking. With time, loosening of the artificial joint has been observed due to the limited properties of the cement used to attach the artificial parts to the bones.
You will remain in the hospital for up to a week after surgery. The use of crutches or a walker is necessary at the start of rehabilitation. However, some people may need further rehabilitation and assistance after hip replacement surgery. Temporary placement in a rehabilitation unit or long-term care center may be necessary until mobility has improved and the person can safely live independently. These centers will provide intensive physical therapy to assist in regaining muscle strength and flexibility in the joint.
Positioning is very important after surgery to reduce stress on the new joint and displacement of the joint. The new hip will not have the same range of movement of the original joint, although you should eventually be able to return to your previous level of activity. However, you should avoid vigorous such sports as skiing or contact sports.
The new joint has a limited range of movement. Until your joint has healed, you will need to take special precautions to avoid dislocation of the joint, including:
- Avoid crossing your legs or ankles even when sitting, standing, or lying.
- When sitting, keep you feet about 6 inches apart.
- When sitting, keep your knees below the level of your hips. Avoid chairs that are too low. You may sit on a pillow to keep your hips higher that your knees.
- When getting up from a chair, slide toward the edge of the chair and then use your walker or crutches for support.
- Avoid bending over at the waist. You may consider purchasing a long-handled shoehorn or a sock aid to help you put on and take off your shoes and socks without bending over. Also, a extension reacher or grabber may be helpful for picking up objects that are too low for you to reach.
- When lying in bed, place a pillow between your legs to keep the joint in proper alignment.
- A special abductor pillow or splint may be used to keep the hip in correct alignment.
- An elevated toilet seat may be necessary to keep the knees lower than the hips when sitting on the toilet.