Having examined the hip replacement procedure in the previous part of this blog, it is now time to look at the things you can and cannot do immediately following the surgery and how long you can expect your new hip to last.
What Not To Do
Your doctor will advise you about any specific precautions that need to be taken after the surgery. This will vary depending on a range of health factors. In general:
- When lying down you should be on your back or on the side which has not had the surgery. Your doctor will tell you when you can resume any other sleeping positions.
- For six to twelve months after the surgery you should avoid pivoting on or applying any twisting pressure to the new joint.
- Do not cross the involved leg past the mid line of your body or turn the leg inwards.
- When bending forward, ensure that you do not bend the hip past a 90 degree angle.
- When sitting down do not cross the affected leg over the other one.
During the course of your regular checkups after the operation, your doctor will tell you when you can stop taking some of these precautions. Some will need to continue for the rest of your life to prevent dislocation or damage to the new hip joint. Ask your doctor before resuming any sporting activities or anything that could place stress on the new hip.
What You Can Do
Once you return home, you will have to use a walker or crutches to move around the house. You will be taught some exercises that you will have to do to strengthen the hip muscle and tissue. Ensure that you follow the exercise plan you are given and if you experience any pain or discomfort while exercising, inform your doctor or the physiotherapist immediately. As your wound heals, you will find walking easier. While walking is an essential part of the recovery process, do not overdo it as this could slow down the recovery. In due course you will be able to replace the walker / crutches with a cane and then walk without any aid or support. Your objective is to return to your normal life and activities. As your mobility with the new hip increases, slowly start returning to your normal routine. Your body will tell you what you can and cannot do as your recovery progresses. In case of any doubt, ask your doctor.
How Long Will Your New Hip Last?
When hip replacement surgery began in the 1970s, the designs of the artificial joint and the material used were such that the joint was expected to last about 10 years before needing to be replaced. With the improvement in the design and materials used, modern hip joints can be expected to last 20 years or more. The aim of the hip replacement procedure is to relieve you of pain and limited mobility that the hip joint was causing. The new hip should return you to a normal pain free lifestyle with almost normal mobility. However, there will be precautions that you will have to take to protect your hip. Your doctor will brief you about them. How well you follow the instructions will affect how long your new hip lasts.