Hip Replacement Surgery: How to Prepare and What to Expect
The decision to have hip replacement surgery is not to be taken lightly. Once you and your doctor have confirmed the time is right for surgery, the process to prepare for a successful surgery begins.
Be ready to put in some time and effort BEFORE the surgery to ensure great results.
Meet with your doctor and surgeon
To start, schedule a meeting with your doctor and care team. They will explain the procedure in detail, and go over the pre-surgery information and after-care plan, and schedule you for any appointments that might be needed before surgery can be scheduled.
A pre-op physical may be required to do any blood tests, or an ECG might be ordered to measure the electrical activity of your heart, to ensure the patient is fit for surgery.
Once you have been cleared for surgery, you will meet with the surgeon to discuss any changes in your recent medical history, and to go over the preparation and procedures to follow before surgery day.
Pre-authorization for surgery and follow up care with your insurance
Call your insurance company and make sure they have received all the necessary documentation from your surgeon’s office, and that all pre-authorization requirements have been met. They will go over the deductible charges that may be required to be paid, and any other out-of-pocket costs involved before insurance kicks in to cover the remaining balances.
Meet with a Physical Therapist
Ask for recommendations from friends and family, and schedule a time to meet and interview potential physical therapists. Make time to take a tour of their facilities, and confirm that you feel comfortable with them and that their facility will best meet your needs. Also, ensure that they are in your insurance network to avoid any complications.
Plan for time away from work
Request time off from your employer, so they can approve the time away, assist with any short-term disability or other types of available coverage.
Arrange with your coworkers to take over any assignments that might need to be completed for the time you are scheduled to be out of the office or request the company hire a temporary worker to fill any void.
Leaving a calendar that outlines what needs to be completed on certain dates, as well as detailed information on how to complete certain tasks will be appreciated by those covering for you.
Friends and family
Friends and family may want to coordinate meals on your behalf, and can also assist with arranging transportation to and from surgery and appointments. Be sure to let them know what type of help you may need, and be open to any help that is being offered.
Set up home for recovery
If possible, move a bed to a room or available space on the first floor to avoid having to navigate steps or stairs.
If needed, ramps can be temporarily installed to gain access to bathrooms or porches.
Other types of equipment may be necessary, such as a shower chair, or a toilet with raised seat or support bars for getting up and down from the seated position.
Get in physical shape
Getting into better physical shape BEFORE surgery can help you recover faster. Building up your strength in both your upper and lower body can help you adjust to using the walker or crutches, and help you regain your mobility even faster.
Check out these two articles for hip stretches and exercises:
Find a support group
A support group can help you to know what to expect and offer tips and tricks both before surgery and during recovery. Groups can often be found in person or online. Having others who have been through something similar and available to lend an ear can be invaluable.
Take a pre-op class if available to you
A pre-op class can help you prepare after-care items. The classes can help you locate items such as a walker, crutches, cane, wheelchair, etc. locally for your temporary use or permanent purchase. While some items can be purchased at a local convenience store like Walgreens, others need to be rented from medical supply stores, and the class can help you navigate and locate these types of stores and services.
What to expect
Many leave the hospital a day or two after surgery, so plan to have a suitcase packed with your clothes, toiletries, phone chargers, reading material, and any other comforts you may want from home during your stay.
Pain at home
Be prepared for leg swelling, nausea, pain, constipation as routine effects from surgery. Once home, have on hand approved over the counter and prescribed medicine to assist with any issues that you may have. If any medicines were prescribed in advance, be sure they have been filled at the pharmacy, as wait times for medications to be filled have grown exponentially due to lack of staff and available pharmacists.
Be on the lookout for blood clots after surgery. A condition called DVT (deep vein thrombosis) can occur, which is the formation of blood clots deep inside the veins of the body, such as the legs, which can cause swelling of the leg, and in rare cases, the clot may break loose in the blood vessel and travel to the lungs, which can be life-threatening.
Be aware of any swelling of the legs that does not go down after elevating the legs, as this may be a sign of blood clots.
You may be placed on medication, often blood thinners, for several weeks after surgery to help prevent blood clots.
It is common for your legs to swell off and on, from walking more and from standing and being upright. The swelling from your legs may cause your hip to throb. To help with swelling, prop your legs up when sitting, and if possible prop your legs up a few times a day. Have ice on hand and ice your hip often after surgery as needed.
TED hose compression stockings can also help with swelling. You may need assistance putting them on and taking them off the first few times. Stockings should be removed at least once per day to check for sores or bruising and to hand wash and air dry daily.