Do you recommend any restrictions following this surgery?
Yes. High-impact activities, such as running, singles tennis and basketball are not recommended. Injury-prone sports such as downhill skiing can be dangerous for the new joint.
What physical/recreational activities may I participate in after my recovery?
You are encouraged to participate in low impact activities such as walking, dancing, golfing, hiking, swimming, bowling and gardening. Most patients can return to stationary bike riding or elliptical machines in 3-4 weeks. Treadmills may be used on a low speed and with no incline at 4 weeks or later. Weight machines are used with your therapist starting after the 4th week and continue till you are discharged. Your physical therapist can answer specific questions about special exercises and machines
Will I notice anything different about my hip?
Yes. You may have a small area of numbness to the outside of the scar that may last a year or more and some have permanent numbness in this area. There is no pain with this, just a numb feeling. Some patients notice some clicking when they move their hip. This is the result of the artificial surfaces coming together and is not serious. In addition, most patients have some swelling and warmth to the hip and leg that may last up to one year. However, this swelling is usually not associated with any pain.
A few days after I went home from the hospital, I noticed more bruising and swelling. Why?
Swelling and bruising, which occurs about 3-6 days after discharge from the hospital, is normal. This is due to the ecchymosis (or bruising) produced during the surgery itself working its way up to the surface of the skin where it is visible. This is normal, and will subside in about 2 weeks. During this time after surgery, it is very important to elevate and apply mild heat to these areas to reduce the symptoms. We recommend using a heating pad on the low setting 20 to 30 minutes at a time, 2-4 times daily. You should continue to use ice over the incision itself. If you notice any increasing calf pain, please call our office as soon as possible. Occasionally patients will notice some blisters on their surgical leg at their period of maximum swelling. This is because there is no room available for the swelling and fluid to go within the skin and therefore pockets (or blisters) form. These should not be popped. If they pop on their own, cleanse them with warm soapy water and leave them open to air. Do not apply any creams or lotions over the blisters. If you have any concerns of infection, contact us immediately.
When can I stop taking Iron and Vitamin C?
The Iron and Vitamin C are important to help build up your blood count and aid in tissue healing after surgery. It is important to begin the Iron and Vitamin C six weeks prior to surgery. Iron can be constipating to some patients. Therefore, monitor you bowel movements, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in fiber. If you have difficult consult your pharmacist regarding over the counter treatments for constipation. Following surgery, we do not require that you continue the Iron and Vitamin C unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
What about warmth and swelling around my hip?
It is very normal for the hip to be warm and have a feeling of swelling. The hip will be warm for up to 6 months after the surgery. During this time, your body is forming a wall around the new hip replacement because it recognizes this as a foreign body. During this wall forming process, your hip will feel warm to the touch. It will also feel thicker and tense at times. All of this is also due to the body getting used to the new metal and plastic. Once the wall stops forming (usually 6 months), these symptoms will reduce.
What are the “six week blues?”
Approximately 5-6 weeks after surgery many patients begin to feel both depressed and frustrated. It is normal to have these feelings during this period. During the first 6 weeks you make great strides in the reduction of pain and with your range of motion. However, at the 6 week mark, you often feel as though you have “hit a wall” in your progress. At this point, it is important to realize how far you have come, and don’t be discouraged. The key to getting off of this plateau is building strength. Muscle strength takes at least 8 weeks to build. Thus, until you reach 8 weeks postoperatively, you are on a plateau. You will get through this! It is important to remember that your exercises will pay off. Continue to build strength by focusing on the strengthening exercises from you notebook and from therapy for at least another 4-6 weeks. As time passes, you will slowly notice that you will feel better. The next phase you will enter is the endurance phase. During this phase, you will feel more tired than usual at the end of the day or even after a few hours of work. This phase will take anywhere from 3-6 months and even up to a year in some patients to regain.
What about some drainage from my incision?
A layer of stitches are placed just below the skin. This is in place of metal staples or outer sutures on your skin. Although this special plastic surgery type of suture makes your incision look better, it will dissolve and sometimes, this causes fluid collections under and above the skin. Sometimes, during the dissolving process, there will be some redness and swelling. In some cases, this even forms a small amount of milky white fluid that looks like pus but is only the byproduct of the dissolving suture. If this occurs, wash out the area with antibacterial soap and water and cover with a large Band-Aid for 24 to 48 hrs. Do not apply any gels or lotions to the area. After 48 hrs, this area normally dries up by itself. However, if this worsens, contact our office.
Will my leg lengths be equal after surgery?
The number one goal of surgery is to reduce your hip pain and attempt to improve your function. The second is to provide you with a stable hip that is not apt to dislocate. If the hip is not stable and is prone to dislocate, a longer implant may be needed. The downside is some slight leg lengthening, but the benefit is stability. A majority of patients prior to surgery have some shortening of the leg as a result of their underlying hip arthritis or disease, and even if the leg length is very close it initially after surgery this feels longer. Most patients adjust to any difference over the first 3 months and rarely is a shoe lift required.