Anterior Hip Replacement Recovery Milestones
Our patients all want to know what recovery following hip replacement looks like. It does of course, vary from patient to patient – but typically, patients who are treated in our ambulatory care center are up and walking the day of surgery using a walker or crutches. We do a really good job of post-operative pain management which makes the transition home easier.
Before you are allowed to go home, one of the criteria for discharge is that you can handle a flight of stairs, even if you don’t have any at home.
We generally find that patients are on canes or crutches for about two weeks. These first two weeks are the bumpiest – there’s often swelling and some pain. This is usually controlled by mild opioid pain medication for three to four days or around-the-clock Tylenol and anti-inflammatories.
The median time to walking unassisted is about two weeks – some people take longer and others that are faster. But that doesn’t mean that your recovery is done. You might still be limping a little, or lacking range of motion, or perhaps you can’t yet walk far. This is where physical therapy comes in to help meet your recovery goals a little faster. We find that patients who go to PT for gait training, strengthening or to work on range of motion hit their recovery goals faster than those who do not.
Everyone recovers at their own pace, so there’s not a definitive date when you will be able to drive, however most patients feel comfortable driving 2-4 weeks after surgery. It’s important that you do not attempt to drive while you are still taking narcotic pain medication.
If your left hip was operated on, you are likely to feel confident enough to drive earlier than if your right hip was replaced as you will need to be strong enough to operate the pedals and perform an emergency stop if required.
Try a short trip or practice in a car park before driving further afield. Remember that you are eligible for a temporary disabled placard which may help you minimize how far you need to walk at your destination. (You should receive an application during your pre-op visit. Read more about the consultation process and what to expect here).
Typically, patients return to work at around four weeks.