Post-Hip Replacement Care

Adjusting back to your regular routine after a hip replacement can take some time, and performing everyday activities without the proper care can lead to complications. Although you will be able to resume most of your normal activities after being discharged from the hospital, it’s important to be mindful of your environment and any indications of abnormalities as you heal. Upon your discharge, hospital staff will likely discuss possible complications with you, including the possibility of infection or a blood clot.

Warning signs of infection

  • Persistent fever (higher than 100 degrees)
  • Shaking chills
  • Increasing redness, tenderness or swelling of your wound
  • Drainage from your wound
  • Increasing pain with both activity and rest

Warning signs of a blood clot

  • Pain in your leg or calf unrelated to your incision
  • Tenderness or redness above or below your knee
  • Severe swelling of your thigh, calf, ankle or foot

Your recovery will take some time, so you’ll require some help at home for a few days or weeks after discharge. There are a few ways you can prepare your home to be more comfortable before you have surgery.

Ways to prep your home

  • Rearrange furniture so you can easily maneuver with a cane, walker or crutches. You may want to temporarily change rooms (make the living room your bedroom, for example) to minimize the use of stairs.
  • Place items you use frequently (phone, remote control, glasses, etc.) within easy reach so you don’t have to reach up or bend down.
  • Remove any throw rugs or area rugs that could cause you to slip. Securely fasten electrical cords around the perimeter of the room.
  • Get a good chair—one that is firm and has a higher-than-average seat. This type of chair is safer and more comfortable than a low, soft-cushioned chair.
  • Install a shower chair, gripping bar, and raised toilet seat in the bathroom.
  • Use assistive devices such as a long-handled shoehorn, a long-handled sponge, and a grabbing tool or reacher to avoid bending over too far.

While you are recovering at home, it’s important to take care of your wound and make sure it’s healing properly. Doing so can also lower your risk for infection.

Take care of your wound

  • Keep the wound area clean and dry. A dressing will be applied in the hospital and should be changed as often as necessary. Ask for instructions on how to change the dressing before you leave the hospital, and make sure to follow them once you are home.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions on how long to wait before you shower or bathe.
  • Notify your doctor immediately if your wound appears red or begins to drain—this could be a sign of infection.

You can expect mild to moderate swelling for 3 to 6 months after your hip replacement. To reduce swelling, slightly elevate your leg and apply ice. Wearing compression stockings can also help reduce swelling. Talk to your doctor if you notice new or severe swelling, as this could be a sign of a blood clot.

To learn more about taking care of yourself after a hip replacement, visit http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00356.