How to recover from a hip or knee replacement

Having your hip or knee replaced is something most people will deal with at some point as they get older.

If you’ve ever had a hip or knee replacement then you know all too well how painful the recovery and long the recovery can be.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s important to take notice of your doctor or surgeon’s advice about the recovery.

So, how do you recover from a hip replacement?

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Well, firstly it’s important to follow the prescribed treatment course, particularly when it comes to medications.

You’ll most likely be given some anti-clotting medication for a few weeks after your surgery. It’s important to keep up with those medications or blood clots could form.

What if you’re in pain?

Bupa suggests you try painkillers available on your supermarket shelves such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, provided you follow the instructions and use as directed.

Physiotherapy and exercise are another important element of recovering from a hip replacement.

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It’s essential that you do the exercises your physiotherapist recommends – they’re a vital part of your recovery.

However, there are certain movements you should avoid – particularly in the first six week after your surgery.

You should avoid twisting your hip outward or inward, and don’t cross your legs. Doing this can reduce the risk of your dislocating your hip, and it’ll reduce the strain on your scar. Listen to the advice your physiotherapist gives you to protect your hip.

When you leave hospital, you should be able to move around at home and climb stairs without much hassle. However, some of your daily activities may be difficult for the first few weeks of your recovery – so don’t be afraid to ask for help.  You could be on crutches for as long as four to six weeks.

You should avoid returning to work and doing light duties for about six weeks, although if you stand or lift a lot in your job, you could be off for longer.

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What about driving?

Well, that depends on your doctor’s advice, whether your car is automatic and which of your hips has been operated on.

If it’s your knee that you’ve had replaced, the recovery is a little bit different.

Firstly, as long as probably having to take anti-clotting medication for a month or so after your surgery, it’s also likely that you’ll have to wear compression stockings for a few weeks.

Just like recovering from a hip replacement, it’s important you keep up physiotherapy exercises with your knees.

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You should keep up the exercises your physiotherapist recommends for at least two months after your surgery.

Unfortunately, you’ll be on crutches or using a walking stick for as many as six weeks but you should still be able to walk up and down stairs and get around the house without much problem.

If you’re having a rest on the couch, or laying in bed, you should lift up your legs and support the leg and knee with some padding.

This will help stop any swelling in your leg and ankle.

What if you’re in pain?

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Well, over the counter painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol work a treat – but you should always follow the instructions and use them as directed.

If you recover well enough, you should be able to return to work within six to 12 weeks.

It all depends on what type of work you do.

As for driving, well, again follow the advice of your doctor.

You should avoid driving until you can break in an emergency without any pain.

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Have you ever had a hip or knee replacement? How did you get through the recovery process?