Hip Replacement Surgery

When you have a hip replaced, or even resurfaced, it is important to exercise as soon as possible after surgery. This does not mean you should try and play tennis straight away or run a marathon. It simply means that gentle exercises that gradually increase your muscle and joint health will help you to get your mobility back.

You are likely to be encouraged to get out of bed within 2 or 3 hours after the anaesthetic wears off, usually just from the bed to a chair or commode. This is a crucial stage in your recovery. Movement will improve your circulation and help to prevent blood clots. It will also begin to retrain the muscles in your legs.

Often, people who have hip surgery have been walking poorly for some time. They may have developed a limp or a rolling gait. In extreme cases, the hip joint may have fused, making walking properly impossible.

When you have hip surgery, you mind needs to be retrained in order to send the correct signals to your legs. This takes concentration and patience, but it is definitely worth it. If you don’t intend to get your full mobility back after your operation, there is little point in having the surgery in the first place.

With the aid of a walking frame you should be able to stand and move a few steps at a time within 6 to 12 hours after surgery. You will need to work out your balance, and make sure you keep your new hip joint straight. Twisting will dislocate the joint and set back your recovery.

Once you can stand and walk, you may want to swap to crutches if you were using them pre-surgery. Simply walking around will help your joint and the tissue surrounding it mend. However, to get the most from your new hip, you will need to start doing some gentle exercises 4 or 5 times a day.

Stand up so that your hands rest lightly on the end of the bed frame, or somewhere that is not going to tip over. Keeping your leg straight, gently lift it up and out to the side, and then back to standing again. Do not force it, but aim for an angle of around 20 degrees from vertical to start with, building up gradually to 40 or 45 degrees.

Do this exercise 10 times.

Alternate the first exercise above, with this next one. Stand straight, with your hands on the end of the bed frame. Lift your leg, keeping it and your back straight, out behind you and then back to standing again. You are unlikely to lift it very far, but a little way is better than nothing.

Next, stand side on to the end of the bed frame, with one hand resting on the frame. Bring your knee up, aiming for as close to 45 degrees to your body but no further. Hold for a moment, and then back to standing.

These 3 exercises should be performed as often as possible, gradually extending your range of movement. You can do them on both your operated leg and your un-operated leg. You will find that if you go a day without exercising, your hip muscles will quickly contract and you will not be able to reach the same level of stretching that you had previously. Do not force yourself – if you feel pain, stop.

Once your confidence and movement is improving, another exercise you can do to help regain a centre of balance is a simple gentle squat. Stand near to a wall or chair so that you can stop yourself from falling. Stand on one leg, keeping your raised foot behind you and close to your straight leg. Slowly bend your straight leg so that you begin to dip towards the floor.

Keep your back straight and your arms as close to your sides as possible. Go as low as you can without straining, even if it is just a few inches to start with. Hold the position for a moment, and then slowly stand up straight again.

Repeat 5 to 10 times, 2 or 3 times per day. Combining all of these exercises in the first weeks after your hip operation will help you to regain a good range of mobility.