Total Joint Replacement

Hip Replacement Returning Home Guide

General Considerations

  • Your surgeon will tell you about any specific positions/activities to avoid. Please follow those rules to minimize the risk of falling, dislocation, etc.
  • If you used a pillow ("abduction pillow") between your legs in the hospital, generally continue to use it at home when lying in bed until your surgeon says you do not need it anymore

Sitting

  • Avoid sitting surfaces that are so low that your knee is higher than your hip in the seated position
  • Use pillows if you have to raise the height of the seat of the chair to achieve this position

Bending

  • Avoid bending at the hip to pick up objects
  • Use a reacher to pick things up off the floor

Turning

  • Avoid rotating your upper body on your operated leg

Sitting/Crossing Your Legs

  • Avoid crossing the leg of your operated hip over your other leg

Sleeping/Getting Out of Bed

  • When sleeping,
    -- If your surgeon had you use a pillow in the hospital to keep your legs separated, continue to use it at home until your surgeon tells you that you can sleep without it

    -- If you did not use a pillow between your legs in the hospital, consider using a pillow between your legs, especially when sleeping on your side

Getting Into Your Car

  • Consider using a pillow on the car seat to keep your knee below your hip when sitting
  • Sit down on the edge of the car seat
  • Swing one leg over into the car, then the other
  • Pivot in seat to face forward, buckle seat belt

Getting Out Of the Car

  • Reverse the above process

Opening A Door

  • When door swings away: Walk up as close to the door as possible, while holding onto your walker/cane with one hand, open the door fully and then walk through
  • When door swings toward you: Stand to the side of the door, open the door then walk through.
  • DO NOT PLACE THE WALKER LEGS OR THE CANE TIP(S) ON THE DOOR SADDLE

Home Environment: Safety First!

  • Pick up throw rugs and tack down loose carpeting. Cover slippery surfaces with carpets that are firmly anchored to the floor or that have non-skid backs
  • Be aware of all floor hazards such as pets, small objects, electrical cords or uneven surfaces
  • Provide good lighting throughout. Install nightlights in the bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways.
  • Keep extension cords and telephone cords out of pathways. DO NOT run wires under rugs; this is a fire hazard
  • DO NOT lift heavy objects for the first three months, and then only with your surgeon's permission
  • DO NOT wear open-toe slippers or shoes without backs. They do not provide adequate support and can lead to slips and falls
  • Stop and think. Use good judgment

Showering/Bathing

  • In general, you can shower approximately 3 days after surgery if the wound is dry. Limit the amount of time water is exposed to the incision site. Pat the incision dry when finished
  • Do not immerse the incision in a tub or Jacuzzi for at least 3-4 weeks after surgery
  • Use long handled brush to clean lower legs

Daily Activities

  • Remember, you just had major joint surgery. Your joint needs time to heal and has to be eased back into daily activities
  • Slowly increase your daily activities to a level similar to your normal daily activity level
  • Use a sock/pant aide to pull up your socks and pants

Other Sensations

  • Due to your surgery, you may notice that the skin around the incision site may feel numb. This usually decreases over time
  • Your muscles might get sore after exercise or performing daily activities. This is a normal response and muscle soreness should not last more than an hour or so after exercise/activity. If it does last longer, do not start another bout of exercise or strenuous activity until the discomfort has gone away

Travel/Driving

  • When traveling, stop and change position frequently to prevent your joint from tightening.
  • Your physician will tell you when you can travel in planes
    -- Your total hip replacement has metal components that may cause the setting off of alarms at security checkpoints in airports and other public travel areas
    -- Advise the authorities before you are screened that you have a total hip replacement. On airplanes, request a bulkhead seat so you have more room
    -- Wear your support socks (TEDS) and do ankle pumping frequently
  • In general, persons with a total hip replacement can begin driving themselves at approximately 4-6 weeks after surgery providing:
    -- You no longer are taking narcotic medication for pain
    -- You have regained your strength and reflexes
    -- We recommend testing your driving ability by driving in an open parking lot with a friend

Return to Work

  • Persons with more desk/administrative type jobs can return to work in a matter of a few weeks
  • Persons with more physically demanding jobs usually return to work in 3 to 6 months. Discuss with your surgeon the impact of your job on your total hip replacement

Sex

  • Some forms of sexual relations can be resumed 4-6 weeks after surgery. Discuss with your doctor for more information

Precautions

  • Call your Doctor if you experience any of the following:
    -- Marked increase in pain in your hip above normal discomfort experienced when exercising or walking
    -- Increased swelling, warmth or redness around the hip
    -- Red, raised areas along incision line
    -- Drainage from the incision site
    -- Fever/Productive cough
    -- If either of your calf muscles become swollen, painful or tender to touch
  • Discuss with your Doctor /Dentist about the need to take antibiotics before you are having dental work or other invasive procedures for two years after total joint surgery.

References