Boyd W. Haynes III, MD
I’m celebrating 30 years in practice with OSC this month and I’ve performed a lot of hip replacement surgeries in those years. I’m going to share with you the “wisdom” I’ve accumulated in all those years as to why some patient sail through hip replacement recovery and others don’t. So, pay attention if you are a candidate for hip replacement surgery and want a great outcome – this stuff is priceless!
- They go into their surgery relatively healthy – Not everyone that has a hip replacement is in perfect health but being in the best shape you can be BEFORE surgery has obvious benefits. Lose some weight, work on building strength through exercise, address any dental issues (infection), get diabetes under control, quit smoking, lower your blood pressure, eat more nutritiously, take vitamins, etc. Any of these steps can go a long way to help your recovery be better and your body heal faster.
- They get adequate rest immediately after surgery and during recovery – Many of my patients are astounded at how great they feel immediately after surgery. For many, this will be the first time they have walked in years without pain! However, having a replaced hip and brain full of anesthesia isn’t a reason to go a mile-long walk around Williamsburg three hours after surgery, even though you may feel like doing so. Go home and rest. You’ve had a major surgery and need to recuperate. You’ll thank me later.
- They elevate the operated leg and ice their hip – Post-operative swelling is almost as likely to occur as the sun is to rise. Elevation of the operated leg and intermittent icing of the hip (especially for the first few days after surgery) is so helpful with swelling as well as pain. I can’t stress this enough.
- They faithfully do their prescribed exercises at home – To recover well, you are going to be doing exercises every day. There will be simple stretches you will do, like foot pumps, whenever you think about it. Your Physical Therapist will come to your home for the first weeks after surgery to help you build strength and range of motion with exercises that will progress as you do.
- Actively participate in Physical Therapy – You will graduate to outpatient Physical Therapy after a few weeks and will travel to a free-standing PT clinic where you can take advantage of all the exercise equipment and therapeutic modalities. Your Physical Therapist will continue to push you to build on your strength and range-of-motion gains. This is where your participation is key because you will determine how successful you continue to be from this point forward. I can’t make you do your exercises. Only you control that.
- Have a positive attitude – My patients who approach hip replacement surgery with a sense of humor, a realistic set of expectations (yes, there may be some discomfort and inconvenience) and an understanding that recovery is a temporary period that will pass, and that life will return to normal again, simply tend to do the best.
I think it also helps to know that you won’t be alone on your journey…Chris, my Physician Assistant, and I, will be with you all the way. We’re here to answer all your questions, allay your concerns, hold your hand, make you laugh and most importantly, provide you with a great surgical outcome. Okay, that is really seven reasons, but it never hurts to have another one.