Your hip replacement recovery timeline
How long does it take to recover from hip replacement surgery? We take you through the journey step by step
Hip replacement recovery: an overview
As with any major operation, hip replacement surgery comes with a recovery period. It's helpful to know what to expect from this recovery period before having the surgery, so that you can be as prepared as possible.
Hip replacement recovery looks different for everyone. The time it takes for you to recover depends on many factors, including your age, general fitness levels, and reason for having surgery in the first place. However, there are some parts of the process that remain similar for everyone. We explain the usual hip replacement recovery timeline below.
When you have hip replacement with Circle Health Group, you'll be treated by an experienced orthopaedic consultant, who will be able to give you a more personalised explanation of what to expect from your hip replacement recovery.
So, once you've read through our hip replacement recovery timeline, be sure to speak directly with your consultant so that they can give you even more information on what to expect from your personal recovery journey.
Recovering in hospital
After surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room where you will slowly come round from the general anaesthetic. You will be offered oxygen through tubes in your nose or a mask to help you breathe properly as you wake up (it is common to feel woozy and tired as this happens).
It is also common to feel sick or be sick when coming round from surgery. You will be offered anti-sickness medication to help ease this. Your nurse will take your blood pressure and temperature regularly in the hours after you wake up to monitor your general health.
When you wake up, you will be sitting upright on your hospital bed. This is to make sure your back and hips are in a straight position, minimising any pain and stiffness across your spine. A pillow will be placed between your knees for comfort and to help support your posture. You might be given support stockings to wear after surgery to help regulate your blood circulation. Your nurse will explain how to put them on and when you need to wear them.
How long will I be in hospital?
The average stay of total hip replacement patients with Circle Health Group is two to three days, but this can differ depending on your circumstances. For example, if you have a pre-existing health condition that means you need to be monitored for longer than usual after surgery, you will stay in hospital for longer than this.
Research shows that people recover better from home, so we won’t keep you in hospital any longer than you need to be. But rest assured, every person is carefully monitored, and you won’t be discharged until we’re completely happy that it’s safe.
Recovering in comfort
Our network of hospitals has ensuite rooms with TV and wifi for your privacy and comfort, which you can make the most of as you recover. You will have a call button on your bed which you can use to let your nurse know you would like their attention (24 hours a day).
Eating well is very important during your recovery, so we offer balanced (and delicious) meals throughout your stay with us. We have a varied menu and you can choose what you have for all three meals. Remember to tell us about your dietary requirements, because we have special options to meet any needs you have - including vegetarian, halal and kosher.
Your pain levels after surgery
Your hip will feel uncomfortable or even painful after surgery. This pain might travel from your hip down to your knee and ankle. It can also affect your groin. This is perfectly normal and can be treated with traditional painkillers, which your healthcare team will give you if you need them.
You might also be offered heat therapy in the form of a heat pack or ice pack to place on your hip for prolonged periods of time. This can help numb or soothe your pain and reduce swelling and inflammation.
Keeping your dressing dry
When you wake up after surgery, you’ll find that the incision over your hip has been sealed with surgical stitches and covered with a dressing. This dressing can be removed at a follow-up appointment around 14 days following your surgery.
You should avoid getting your dressing wet when bathing in hospital and at home, unless advised otherwise by your consultant. Some dressing can be waterproof, so it’s always best to ask.
Getting back on your feet
Your physiotherapist will encourage you to get out of bed and take your first steps after surgery as quickly as possible. This is often on the same day as your surgery, but it depends on your pain levels. If you feel unable to get out of bed on the day of your surgery, you will be encouraged to do so on the following day.
Your physiotherapist will gently help you out of bed and onto your feet with the use of a walking aid, usually crutches or a walking frame with wheels. They will help you walk from one side of your room to the other, making sure you feel safe and supported throughout.
The sooner you get out of bed and start walking, the faster you are likely to recover from surgery. Lying in bed for too long can put you at higher risk of a blood clot.
Walking quickly after surgery also helps you recover movement in your hip, improve blood flow, strengthen your hip muscles, and even reduce your pain. You will be able to put more weight on your operated leg as you regain strength.
Working with your physiotherapist
Over the next couple of days in hospital, your physiotherapist will work with you to build a programme of exercises that will help you recover from your hip replacement operation as quickly and fully as possible. These will be specific hip replacement exercises that have been shown to help with hip replacement recovery, and the specific programme will have been tailored to your individual needs and circumstances.
You’ll be taught these exercises at hospital, perhaps at our onsite physiotherapy clinic, and we will ensure you know how to perform them safely when you return home. These exercises will help strengthen your hip muscles and improve your mobility, reducing your pain and supporting your recovery.
If you happen to need any specialist equipment to do your exercises, your physiotherapist will show you how to use it and make sure you have the right equipment at home to carry on.
You will need to arrange for a friend or family member to collect you from hospital as you will not be able to drive home yourself. If you would prefer, we can arrange for a taxi to collect you from hospital when it is time for you to go home.
Still here for you
While in hospital, you’ll see the same friendly faces throughout, from your consultant to your nurses. You can ask them any question at any time, they are here to help you feel at ease and to support you to get better as soon as possible.
Before you go home, your consultant will answer any questions you might have and give you as much information as you need about your hip replacement recovery at home.
Remember, just because you’re going home does not mean we are not still here to support you. We will be checking in to see how recovery is going, and you can always get in touch if you need us.
Hip replacement recovery at home
By the time you leave hospital, you should be feeling significantly better than when you first came round after surgery. Your physiotherapist will have helped you to start walking again and you will have started to regain your strength. Hopefully your post-surgical pain will have eased somewhat.
However, hip replacement surgery is a major operation and your recovery is not over yet. You will need at least a few weeks of rest and relaxation, and you won’t be able to go about your activities as normal for a while.
During the first six weeks of recovery at home, there are various things you should avoid doing as well as various things we encourage. Your consultant will have talked you through the below lists of dos and don’ts before you left the hospital.
They will also have explained to you how to prepare your home so that you are as comfortable as possible while you recover from surgery.
What to avoid after hip replacement surgery
- Avoid crossing your legs over each other
- Avoid bending your hip more than 90°
- Avoid sitting on low chairs or toilet seats
- Avoid twisting your hip or forcing it into uncomfortable positions
How to look after yourself after hip replacement surgery
- Take any pain medicine we have advised you to, even if you don’t feel pain at that time
- Be careful and cautious, using a walking aid unless advised otherwise
- Follow the exercises recommended by your Physiotherapist, and keep active as much as possible, with sensible, small movements and very light exercise
- Make sure you attend all outpatient appointments, even if you feel fine
Preparing your home ahead of time
It’s a great idea to make your home recovery-friendly before you come into hospital, so that when you get home it’s all been done already.
We recommend stocking up your house with food and resources before surgery or arranging for a friend or family member to do so when you are in hospital.
Remember to remove any tripping hazards, such as loose floorboards or general mess in your home, before surgery. This is to avoid tripping and injuring your hip further when you get home.
You might need a raised toilet seat or shower stool to use after surgery. Both prevent you from bending your hip too much, which can increase your pain and slow down your hip replacement recovery. Your consultant can provide you with this equipment and show you how to use it properly when you are in hospital.
The first few weeks
In the first few weeks after your surgery, your mobility will be limited, but you will be able to perform everyday tasks such as walking up and down stairs, standing up to make yourself a drink, and using the toilet. You will need your crutches or walking frame to support you when you move.
Your physiotherapist will explain the best position for you to sleep in at home, which will be the best position to avoid both pain and damaging your hip.
The good news is, you should now be able to move around without debilitating pain. The source of your hip pain will be gone, though you will still have some pain and discomfort following surgery (which should ease and disappear over time). You can take traditional painkillers to manage this when you first get home.
Exercising after surgery
It is important to pace yourself when exercising after surgery to avoid straining your hip and affecting your recovery. Any exercise should be eased into gently and slowly.
Slow-paced walking will help strengthen the muscles in your leg and allow you a gentle cardiovascular workout, as will gentle swimming (you should avoid this until you have your dressing removed).
As you gain more strength, mobility, and confidence in your new hip, you will be able to increase your physical activity. You should avoid strenuous activity, such as contact sports, until your consultant advises you are ready to do so.
In addition to low-impact exercise, you should also follow the exercise programme set by your physiotherapist.
Attending your follow-up appointment
Around two weeks after your surgery, you will have a follow-up appointment with your consultant. They will want to know how you are getting on with your new hip, and check how well you are healing. Your consultant will remove your dressing at this appointment. They will give you ointment to apply to your wound at home and instructions on how and when to do this.
Regaining your strength at the six-week mark
About four to six weeks post-surgery, most people stop using a walking aid and can walk freely and independently as they continue to regain strength in their hip(s).
After six weeks, most people can also drive safely and return to work. Returning to work will depend on the nature of your job. If you have a physical job, such as construction work, you should wait until your consultant tells you it is safe to go back to work before doing so. Driving will depend on whether you can safely perform an emergency stop (without pain) and also on your insurance company. Be sure to speak to them to find out exactly when they consider you safe to be back behind the wheel.
You can have sex safely six to eight weeks after surgery. Don’t hesitate to ask your consultant which positions work best when recovering from hip replacement surgery, they will know the answer and won’t be even slightly embarrassed by the question.
Over the next few months, you will continue to regain strength and mobility as you rest at home, follow your physiotherapy programme, exercise with care and caution, and attend follow-up appointments with your consultant. You should continue to follow your physiotherapy programme until advised otherwise by your consultant or physiotherapist.
6-12 months after surgery
Full hip replacement recovery can take between six and 12 months. Full recovery means:
- You can perform everyday tasks without hip pain or discomfort
- You can safely participate in high-impact activities, such as skiing, rugby, football, and climbing
- You can safely have sex
- You can have sex without pain or discomfort in your hip
- You can safely drive
- You can drive without pain and discomfort in your hip
- You can get back to doing the things you love, pain-free
Be patient and kind to yourself throughout your hip replacement recovery
Many people make a full recovery from hip replacement surgery sooner than after six months. Still, it’s important to have realistic expectations for your recovery because it can take time and patience to get back to feeling like you again.
But, rest assured, if you follow the instructions and exercises set by your consultant and physiotherapist – and if you are gentle with yourself throughout your recovery journey – you will get back to doing the things you love within a year or less.
Recovering from partial hip replacement surgery
Recovery following partial hip replacement surgery is often shorter than from a total hip replacement because the surgery is less invasive. However, the same timeline applies in relation to returning to work, exercise, sex, and driving. You should also follow your physiotherapy exercises and stick with low-impact exercise until advised otherwise by your consultant.
Many people fully recover from partial hip replacement surgery after just six months, but some can take up to 12, just as they would with total hip replacement surgery. Recovery looks different for everyone, so it is always best to speak with your consultant for a personalised understanding of your timeline based on your circumstances.
Why go private for hip replacement surgery?
People choose to get private hip replacement surgery for various reasons. For many people, it’s the reassurance that they will be seen by a specialist without delay. There are no waiting lists when you pay for your own treatment.
At Circle Health Group, we perform thousands of successful hip replacements every year. It is actually our most common procedure and we believe we offer the best private treatment for hip pain in the UK.
When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, the benefits include:
- Skip the waiting list and get fast access to expert healthcare
- The option to choose the hospital and specialist you want
- Consultant-led care from start to finish
- A bespoke treatment plan built around your individual needs and goals
- Consistency of care, so you’ll see the same friendly faces in the same place from start to finish
- Aftercare included, so you can focus on recovery without worrying about hidden costs
- Private en-suite rooms, healthy & delicious food, and free car parking for all patients
If you want to know more about hip replacement surgery, book your appointment online today.