Before undergoing any surgery, it’s important that patients are prepared for what the recovery process will look like. Total hip replacement is a major surgery, and it requires dedication to the recovery process in order to see optimal results.
Although the majority of patients undergoing hip replacement will return home from the hospital two days after their surgeries, depending on the surgeon’s preferences and protocols, the complete recovery process can last 12 weeks or more.
Coming in for office visits
Every surgeon has his or her own specific protocols, but I like to see my patients in Redding back in the office at two weeks, six weeks, 12 weeks, and one year after their surgeries.
By our six week visit, most people are off their pain medications and their mobility has improved to the point where they are no longer needing any type of walker, cane, or crutch to get around.
Returning to exercise
After weeks of taking it easy, most patients are eager to resume their favorite activities and exercise routines. Repetitive, high-impact activities like running should be avoided after hip replacement surgery, but light exercise can typically be resumed between six weeks and 10 weeks after surgery.
The types of light exercise activities that surgeons tend to recommend include walking and cycling. Golf is another popular activity among the patients I see, however I do not recommend that anyone start playing full games, such as nine holes of golf, until approximately 12 weeks after their surgeries.
Going back to work
Most people will go back to work between three and six weeks after hip replacement surgery, however this will depend on the patient’s activity level and his or her ability to participate in sedentary light duty. It will also depend on the patient’s occupation and desire to return to work.
I usually tell people to ask for eight weeks off from work, knowing that the majority will go back well before that point. Asking for eight weeks off ensures that patients have the time off if needed, and it’s unlikely that they will have to ask for additional time off from their employers.
Traveling after surgery
Depending on where you live and where your surgeon is located, you may need to travel as early as two weeks after your procedure. In Redding, I see patients from a wide service area, and many people live an hour or more away from our city.
For the average patient, I would recommend avoiding traveling for pleasure during the early recovery phase following hip replacement surgery. I also advise patients to take additional pain medications before any long trips to or from the doctor’s office. Please speak with a physician before booking any air travel trips after surgery, as well.
Driving during the recovery period
How soon a patient can drive after undergoing hip replacement surgery depends on which hip was replaced and whether the patient drives an automatic or a stick shift vehicle. Most patients can start driving between two and six weeks after surgery. However, it is very important to mention that patients should be off all narcotic or opioid pain medications before driving any vehicle. Driving under the influence of prescribed pain medications is never a good idea.
If you like posts like these, you might want to check out my book, Life After Hip Replacement: A Complete Guide to Recovery & Rehabilitation. It is full of tips like these for men and women undergoing hip replacement, and it can give people a clearer understanding of what to expect following surgery. Click here for more information.