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Tips for a Successful Total Hip Replacement

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Tips for a Successful Total Hip Replacement

If you’re planning to have a total hip replacement, you’ll want to spend some time preparing. You’ll want to learn as much as possible about the procedure and get to know the doctors who will be taking care of you. Planning ahead can help ensure you have a successful procedure and heal faster with a smooth recovery.

Prepare for surgery

  • In the weeks leading up to the surgery, physical therapy and exercise are the best ways to strengthen and prepare the surrounding muscles. 
  • Eating healthy is important — your body needs to those nutrients for proper healing. If you are overweight, your doctor may ask you to lose weight to lower surgery risks and ensure a successful outcome. 
  • You need to see your primary care doctor for preoperative medical clearance and lab work. You may need some tests before surgery, including a chest x-ray, EKG, blood work, and urinalysis. Your doctor will also review all medications that you are taking, as it may be necessary to stop certain medications before surgery. 
  • Prepare your home for your return following surgery. Look for trip hazards around your home such as electrical cords and other obstructions. Pick up throw rugs and tack down loose carpeting. You may also want to clean house, do laundry and put it away, put clean linens on the bed — anything to make your home more comfortable for you while you are recovering. Bring everything you may need, from medications to the TV remote, down to a level that is easy to reach. You may also want to prepare some meals and freeze them in single serving containers.  
  • Pre-purchase or rent any needed medical equipment for your home. This may include specialty beds or walkers.
  • Before surgery, contact your insurance company to find out if a preauthorization, a precertification, a second opinion, or a referral form is required. After your surgery has been scheduled, the hospital will call you to take down preregistration information by phone.  
  • A special pre-operative class for patients scheduled for joint surgery may be required. We will schedule this class for you 1-2 weeks prior to your surgery. We recommend that you bring a family member or a friend with you to act as your “coach.”
  • Do not take aspirin or arthritis medications for 7 days before surgery. This includes Motrin, Feldene, Naprosyn, or other arthritis type medication. The use of these medications interfere with blood clotting. Prednisone, however, should be continued. You may take acetaminophen. Check with your doctor before taking any other medications.

Day of surgery

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, including water, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Do not chew gum or eat candy or breath mints. 
  • You may be allowed to take certain medications the morning of surgery as advised by your doctor. 
  • Please bathe or shower the morning of your surgery if possible. 
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. 
  • Do not wear makeup or jewelry.  
  • If you wear dentures, contact lenses or eyeglasses, you will be asked to remove them prior to your surgery. 
  • You will be asked to come to the hospital two hours before the scheduled surgery to give the nursing staff sufficient time to start an IV, answer questions, and prepare you for surgery.  
  • Notify your surgeon if there is a change in your medical condition (cold, infection, fever, etc.) prior to your surgery. It may be necessary to reschedule your surgery. 
  • Bring your insurance card, ID card, and a copy of your Advanced Directives, if applicable.

After the surgery

  • Physical therapy and/or rehabilitation may be necessary before and after you leave the surgical facility, to focus on helping you recover strength and flexibility. Follow the physical therapy plan your doctor creates for you. You will receive written discharge instructions concerning medications, physical therapy, activity, etc.  
  • Take your pain medication at least 30 minutes before physical therapy. Gradually wean yourself from prescription medication to over-the-counter acetaminophen. You may take two regular strength acetaminophen capsules in place of your prescription medication up to four times a day.
  • Applying ice to your affected joint will decrease discomfort. You can use it before and after your exercise program. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a kitchen towel makes an ideal ice pack, or an ice machine maybe purchased for direct continuous icing.  
  • Don’t push yourself too much, allow your body to recover.
  • You should call your doctor immediately if: 

1. Your incision becomes red, angry looking, and/or drainage develops from the surgical or drain site. If the area around the incision becomes swollen and does not become less swollen with rest, ice and elevation.

2. Your leg, ankle, or foot swelling does not respond to rest and elevation. There is tenderness or redness along the calf or inner thigh. Blood clots can form in your calf or thigh following surgery.

3. You have pain or increasing pain in your surgical joint after it has healed. This could be a sign of infection. 

4. You are running an elevated temperature of 101.5˚ F with no other symptoms following your surgery.

Long-term care

  • Maintain a healthy weight, making sure to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
  • Do not have any dental work or invasive procedures scheduled for at least three months after surgery unless it is urgent to do so. If you have dental work or a minor surgical procedure, be sure to tell your dentist or surgeon that you have had a major joint replacement. The protective use of antibiotics for these procedures should keep you from developing an infection in your prosthesis.
  • Exercising is important to obtain the best results from total hip surgery. With both your orthopedic and primary care physicians’ permission you should be on a regular exercise program three to four times per week lasting 20- 30 minutes. You need to work to keep the muscles strong. You may receive exercises from a physical therapist at an outpatient facility or at home.