Recovery from Hip Replacement Surgery: What to Expect and How to Make it Easier

Recovery from Hip Replacement | Orthomed Hospital
Table of Contents

Hip replacement surgery can be a life-changing procedure for those suffering from chronic hip pain and limited mobility. Whether you’re scheduled for a hip replacement or you’re supporting a loved one through the process, understanding the recovery journey is crucial. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through what to expect during recovery from hip replacement surgery and offer tips to make the process smoother.

Preparing for Recovery

Before surgery, there are several steps you can take to ensure a more comfortable recovery from hip replacement:

  • Home Modifications: Consider making necessary changes to your home, such as installing handrails, adjusting furniture heights, and removing trip hazards.
  • Assistive Devices: Acquire assistive devices like a walker or cane, which will aid in mobility during the early stages of recovery.
  • Support System: Enlist the help of friends and family for support with daily tasks and transportation.
Recovery from Hip Replacement | Orthomed Hospital

Immediate Post-Surgery Period (Hospital Stay)

The initial recovery from hip replacement phase typically involves a hospital stay of a few days. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Pain Management: You’ll receive pain medications as needed, and your medical team will monitor your pain levels closely.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist will help you begin gentle exercises to regain mobility and strength in your hip.
  • Mobility: You’ll likely use a walker or crutches to move around initially. Follow your therapist’s instructions for weight-bearing and movement.

Transitioning to Home

Once you’re discharged from the hospital, your recovery continues at home. Follow these guidelines:

  • Medication Management: Stick to your prescribed medications and take them as directed for pain and infection prevention.
  • Follow Your Exercise Plan: Continue with the exercises recommended by your physical therapist. These will help you regain strength and flexibility.
  • Incision Care: Keep your incision clean and dry to prevent infection. Adhere to the wound care guidelines provided by your surgeon.

Weeks 2-6: Steady Progress

As the weeks go by, you should notice steady improvement:

  • Reduced Pain: Pain and discomfort should decrease gradually. If they don’t, consult your healthcare provider.
  • Increased Mobility: You’ll rely less on assistive devices and regain more independence.
  • Physical Therapy: Continue attending physical therapy sessions to enhance your recovery progress.

Months 3-6: Returning to Normal Life

By the third month, you’ll be well on your way to resuming normal activities:

  • Driving: With your surgeon’s approval, you may be able to start driving again.
  • Work and Hobbies: Gradually ease back into work and recreational activities as your hip allows.
  • Stay Active: Maintain a regular exercise routine to keep your hip joint strong and flexible.

Long-Term Recovery from Hip Replacement

Recovery from hip replacement is an ongoing process. Here are some strategies for achieving sustained success over the long term:

  • Annual Check-ups: Regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon are crucial for monitoring the condition of your hip replacement.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy weight and engage in low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling to protect your hip joints.
  • Be Mindful: Avoid high-impact activities and movements that could strain your hip replacement.

Dos and Don’ts after Hip Replacement

After a hip replacement surgery, it’s important to follow specific dos and don’ts to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Keep in mind that these guidelines may vary depending on your surgeon’s recommendations and your individual circumstances.

It’s important to seek personalized guidance from your healthcare provider at all times. Here are some general dos and don’ts after hip replacement:


  • Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions: Adhere to the post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon or healthcare team. They will give you specific guidance tailored to your surgery.
  • Physical Therapy and Exercise: Attend physical therapy sessions as recommended by your healthcare provider. These exercises are crucial for improving mobility and strength in your hip joint.
  • Use Assistive Devices: Use any assistive devices prescribed, such as crutches or a walker, until your healthcare provider says it’s safe to discontinue them.
  • Manage Pain: Take prescribed pain medications as directed by your healthcare provider to manage pain and discomfort. Don’t wait until the pain becomes severe before taking medication.
  • Effective Wound Care: Ensure the surgical incision remains clean and free from moisture. Follow any wound care instructions provided, and watch for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or drainage.


  • Avoid High-Impact Activities: Do not engage in high-impact sports or activities that put excessive stress on your hip joints, such as running or jumping.
  • Don’t Cross Your Legs: Avoid crossing your legs or bending your hip at a 90-degree angle.
    This may exert pressure on the hip joint.
  • Avoid Twisting Your Hip: Avoid twisting or pivoting on the operated leg. Use caution when turning in bed or getting in and out of chairs or cars.
  • Limit Bending: Do not bend at the waist to pick up objects from the floor. Use tools or assistance to retrieve items from low surfaces.
  • Avoid Prolonged Sitting: Avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long. Change your position regularly to prevent stiffness and discomfort.


Recovery from hip replacement surgery requires patience, commitment, and a supportive network. By following your medical team’s advice, staying active, and making necessary lifestyle adjustments, you can look forward to a pain-free and active life after hip replacement. Remember, each person’s recovery journey is unique, so consult your healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Read also Types of Knee Replacement Surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

While sleeping on your side might be possible after hip replacement surgery, it’s essential to follow your surgeon’s advice. They will typically recommend sleeping on your back with a pillow between your legs for the first few weeks to protect your new hip joint. As your recovery progresses, you may gradually transition to sleeping on your non-operated side, but it’s crucial to do this under your surgeon’s guidance. They’ll consider your specific situation and the type of hip replacement you had before providing clear instructions on safe sleeping positions.

Traveling long distances after hip replacement surgery is possible, but it’s important to plan and prepare. If you’re flying, inform the airline in advance and request assistance if needed. When traveling by car, make frequent stops to stretch and move around. It’s advisable to bring any necessary assistive devices, such as a walker or cane, and continue with your prescribed exercises during the trip. Consult your surgeon before making travel plans to ensure your specific circumstances are taken into account, and follow their advice regarding timing and precautions.

Although complications are infrequent, it’s crucial to remain watchful and attentive. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following signs during your hip replacement recovery:

  • Increased Pain: If your pain suddenly intensifies or becomes unmanageable despite medication, it could be a sign of a problem.
  • Swelling or Redness: Excessive swelling or redness around the surgical site can indicate infection or inflammation.
  • Fever: A persistent fever might suggest an infection, so monitor your temperature regularly.
  • Difficulty Walking or Bearing Weight: If you suddenly find it difficult to walk or bear weight on your operated leg, there may be an issue with the implant or the healing process.
  • Unusual Noises or Sensations: Clicking, popping, or other unusual sensations in your hip joint could be a cause for concern.

The time it takes to walk normally after a hip replacement surgery can vary from person to person and depends on several factors, including the individual’s overall health, the type of surgical approach used, their age, and their adherence to post-operative rehabilitation and physical therapy. However, here is a general timeline for hip replacement recovery:

Immediate Post-Surgery: In the hours immediately following hip replacement surgery, you may start walking with the assistance of a walker or crutches, under the guidance of a physical therapist. You may be able to bear some weight on the new hip joint, but full weight-bearing is often limited initially.

Hospital Stay: Most patients spend a few days in the hospital after hip replacement surgery. During this time, you will work with physical therapists to practice walking with assistive devices and learn proper techniques for getting in and out of bed and chairs.

Weeks 2-6: Over the next several weeks, you’ll work on regaining strength and mobility in the hip joint through physical therapy exercises and daily activities. You may start walking with less reliance on assistive devices, eventually transitioning to a cane.

Weeks 6-12: By this time, many patients can walk independently without any assistive devices, although some may still use a cane for added stability. Physical therapy continues to focus on improving strength, flexibility, and function.

Months 3-6: Most patients can walk normally without any assistive devices by this point in their recovery. However, it’s important to continue with physical therapy exercises and follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor progress and ensure a successful recovery.

Long-Term Recovery: It can take up to a year or more for some patients to fully regain their strength and mobility and feel completely comfortable with their new hip joint. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can contribute to long-term success.

While hip replacement surgery can greatly improve mobility and quality of life for individuals with hip joint problems, there are certain activities and lifestyle choices that may need to be altered or abstained from in order to safeguard the newly replaced hip joint. Here are some activities and precautions to consider:

High-Impact Activities: After a hip replacement, it’s generally advisable to avoid high-impact activities that place significant stress on the hip joint. These activities include running, jogging, jumping, and participating in high-impact sports like basketball or tennis.

Deep Squats and Twisting: Avoid deep squats and excessive twisting of the hip joint. These movements can place strain on the implant and increase the risk of dislocation.

Crossing Legs: Crossing your legs at the knees can increase the risk of hip dislocation in the early postoperative period. Many surgeons recommend avoiding this habit for a certain period following surgery.

Low Chairs and Sofas: Be cautious when sitting in low chairs and sofas, as they can require excessive bending of the hip joint. It’s generally better to use chairs with armrests or higher seating to reduce strain on the hip.

Prolonged Sitting: Avoid sitting for extended periods without taking breaks to stand, walk, or perform gentle hip stretches. Prolonged sitting can lead to stiffness and discomfort.

Excessive Lifting: Heavy lifting or carrying objects that strain the hip joint should be avoided. When lifting, use proper body mechanics and avoid bending at the waist. If you need to lift something heavy, consult your surgeon or physical therapist for guidance.

High-Risk Activities: Activities that involve a risk of falling, such as skiing or ice skating, may need to be reconsidered or approached with caution. Falls can lead to fractures or dislocation of the hip implant.

Strenuous Impact Exercises: While some low-impact exercises like swimming and stationary cycling are often recommended for rehabilitation and fitness, it’s crucial to consult with your surgeon or physical therapist before starting any exercise program to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your specific case.

After hip replacement surgery, patients are typically provided with guidelines and precautions to follow during the initial stages of their recovery to ensure a safe and successful outcome. While these rules may vary slightly depending on the surgeon’s recommendations and the type of implant used, here are three common rules or guidelines often emphasized after hip replacement:

Hip Precautions: Hip precautions are specific guidelines designed to prevent dislocation of the new hip joint, which is a concern during the initial healing period. Common hip precautions include:

  • Avoid crossing your legs at the knees.
  • Not bending your hip more than 90 degrees (e.g., do not bring your knee toward your chest).
  • Not twisting your operated leg inward or outward.
  • Using an elevated toilet seat reduces the need for excessive bending.
  • Sitting on a stable chair with armrests and using proper technique (e.g., scooting forward and keeping feet flat) when sitting down and standing up.

Weight-Bearing Status: Your surgeon will specify your weight-bearing status after hip replacement surgery. This may involve “weight-bearing as tolerated” or “partial weight-bearing,” which means you can put some weight on the operated leg as guided by your healthcare provider. Alternatively, they may recommend “non-weight-bearing” for a certain period, which means keeping all weight off the operated leg.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation: Physical therapy is a critical component of hip replacement recovery. Your surgeon will likely recommend a course of physical therapy exercises to help improve your hip’s strength, range of motion, and overall function.