Preparing for Hip Replacement Surgery

Recovery from hip replacement surgery can be made easier and more comfortable by taking steps to be prepared before surgery. This includes:

  • Arranging for others to help you.

  • Preparing your home.

  • Making sure your body is prepared by doing a pre-operative exam and being as healthy as you can.

  • Doing exercises before your surgery as told by your caregiver.

Also, you can ease any concerns about your financial responsibilities by calling your insurance company after you decide to have surgery. In addition to your surgery and hospital stay, you will want to ask about your coverage for medical equipment, rehab facilities, and home care.

ARRANGING FOR HELP

You will be getting stronger and more mobile every day. However, in the first couple weeks after surgery, it is unlikely you will be able to do all your daily activities as easily as before your surgery. You will tire easily and still have limited movement in your leg. Follow these guidelines to best arrange for the help you may need after your surgery:

  • Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital.  Your surgeon will be able to tell you how many days you can expect to be in the hospital.

  • Cancel all work, care-giving, and volunteer responsibilities for at least 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery.

  • If you live alone, arrange for someone to care for your home and pets for the first 4 to 6 weeks.

  • Select someone with whom you feel comfortable to be with you day and night for the first week. This person will help you with your exercises and personal care, like bathing and using the toilet.

  • Arrange for drivers to bring you to and from your doctor and therapy appointments, as well as to the grocery store and other places you need to go, for at least 4 to 6 weeks.

  • Select 2 or 3 rehab facilities where you would be comfortable recovering just in case you are not able to go directly home to recover.

PREPARING YOUR HOME

  • Remove all clutter from your floors.

  • To see if you will be able to move in these spaces with a wheeled walker, hold your hands out about 6 inches from your sides. Then walk from your bed to the bathroom. Walk from your resting spot to your kitchen and bathroom. If you do not hit anything with your hands, you probably have enough room.

  • Remove throw rugs.

  • Move the items you use often to shelves and drawers that are at countertop height. Move items in your bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom.

  • Prepare a few meals that you can freeze and reheat later.

  • Do not plan on recovering in bed. It is better for your health to sit upright.  You may wish to use a recliner with a small table nearby. Keep the items you use most frequently on that table. These may include the TV remote, a cordless phone, a book or laptop computer, water glass, and any other items of your choice.

  • Consider adding grab bars in the shower and near the toilet.

  • While you are in the hospital, you will learn about equipment helpful for your recovery. Some of the equipment includes raised toilet seats, tub benches, and shower benches. Often, your hospital care team will help you decide what you need and can direct you about where to buy these items. You may not need all of these items, and they are not often returnable, so it is not recommended that you buy them before going to the hospital.

PREPARING YOUR BODY

  • Complete a pre-operative exam. This will ensure that your body is healthy enough to safely complete this surgery. Be certain to bring a complete list of all your medicines and supplements (herbs and vitamins). You may be advised to have additional tests to ensure your safety.

  • Complete elective dental care and routine cleanings before the surgery. Germs from anywhere in your body, including those in your mouth, can travel to your new joint and infect it. It is important not to have any dental work performed for at least 3 months after your surgery. After surgery, be sure to tell your dentist about your joint replacement.

  • Maintain a healthy diet. Unless advised by your surgeon, do not drastically change your diet before your surgery.

  • Quit smoking. Get help from your caregiver if you need it.

  • The day before your surgery, follow your surgeon's directions for showering, eating, and drinking. These directions are for your safety.

EXERCISES

Your caregiver may have you do the following exercises before your surgery. Be sure to follow the exercise program your caregiver prescribes for you. Doing the exercises on both sides will help prepare your "good" side as well. While completing these exercises, remember:

  • Stretch as long as you can, up to 30 seconds, without pain developing.

  • You should only feel a gentle lengthening or release in the stretched tissue.

ExitCare Image Ankle Pumps

  1. While sitting with your knees straight, draw the top of your feet upwards by flexing your ankles. 

  2. Then, reverse the motion, pointing your toes downward.

  3. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Complete this exercise 1 to 2 times per day.

ExitCare Image Heel Slides

  1. Lie on your back with both knees straight. (If this causes back discomfort, bend your opposite knee, placing your foot flat on the floor.)

  2. Slowly slide your heel back toward your buttocks until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of your knee or thigh.

  3. Slowly slide your heel back to the starting position.

  4. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Complete this exercise 1 to 2 times per day.

ExitCare Image Quadriceps Sets

  1. Lie on your back with your sore leg extended and your opposite knee bent.

  2. Gradually tense the muscles in the front of your thigh. You should see either your kneecap slide up toward your hip or increased dimpling just above the knee. This motion will push the back of the knee down toward the floor.

  3. Hold the muscle as tight as you can without increasing your pain for 10 seconds.

  4. Relax the muscles slowly and completely in between each repetition.

  5. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Complete this exercise 1 to 2 times per day.

ExitCare Image Short Arc Kicks

  1. Lie on your back. Place a 4 to 6 inch towel roll under your sore knee so that the knee slightly bends.

  2. Raise only your lower leg by tightening the muscles in the front of your thigh. Do not allow your thigh to rise.

  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds.

  4. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Complete this exercise 1 to 2 times per day.

ExitCare Image Straight Leg Raises

  1. Lie on your back with your sore leg extended and your opposite knee bent. 

  2. Tense the muscles in the front of your sore thigh. You should see either your kneecap slide up or increased dimpling just above the knee. Your thigh may even quiver.

  3. Tighten these muscles even more and raise your leg 4 to 6 inches off the floor. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds.

  4. Keeping these muscles tense, lower your leg.

  5. Relax the muscles slowly and completely in between each repetition.

  6. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Complete this exercise 1 to 2 times per day.

ExitCare Image Arm Chair Push-ups

  1. Find a firm, non-wheeled chair with solid armrests.

  2. Sitting in the chair, extend your sore leg straight out in front of you.

  3. Lift up your body weight, using your arms and opposite leg.

  4. Slowly lower your body weight. 

  5. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Complete this exercise 1 to 2 times per day.