If you're scheduled for a total hip replacement or orthopedic surgery, you deserve to know what’s going to happen every step of the way. We will take time to explain everything to you throughout the process and will answer any questions you may have.
Although each patient is unique, typically, here is what you can expect.
Prior to Your First Visit
When you make your appointment, our staff will explain what you’ll need to bring with you to your first visit – including paperwork, and any prior X-rays and test results. Be sure to schedule your appointment for a time that works for you. If you’re coming from out of the area, we will find a convenient time that factors in any needed travel time. If you prefer to arrive the night before your appointment, we can recommend accommodations near our office.
During your appointment, we will ask you several questions about your hip symptoms and your general health. This will help us to determine if hip surgery is safe and right for you. We will also review any prior X-rays and/or any other test you may have had.
If you haven’t had any tests or we find that you need additional tests, we will either perform the tests during your evaluation or schedule a time for you to have them done. If you don’t live in the area, we will work with you to find a testing site near your home and make sure results get forwarded to us.
At your initial visit, we also will conduct a physical exam to measure the range of motion of your hips and knees, and evaluate your muscle strength. We will then watch you walk, sit, bend and move.
Your physical evaluation along with your X-rays and/or other test results will help us to determine the injury and most appropriate treatment.
Once we’ve determined the treatment, our scheduler will work with the care coordinator at the Holland Hospital’s Joint Replacement Center to set up your procedure. The coordinator will contact you, go over everything you need to know, and be your point-person for the procedure, taking care of any issues along the way.
To prepare for surgery, we will likely ask that you see your family physician or an internist for a thorough medical evaluation to make sure you don’t have any medical issues that could affect your surgery.
To better prepare you for surgery and recovery, we may also suggest lifestyle changes such as weight loss and smoking cessation. If you smoke, we recommend that you stop at least two weeks before surgery.
Be sure to let us know about any medications or supplements you are taking along with the dosages. This also includes aspirin or other arthritis medications. You may need to stop taking certain medications before surgery.
Some patients are more comfortable with using their own blood if a transfusion is needed during surgery. You would need to donate your own blood ahead of time. Let us know if this is something you would like to do, and we can put you in contact with the appropriate department at the Holland Hospital.
If you are coming from outside the area, you may want to arrive the day before surgery and stay the night in a hotel. Our staff can provide you with recommendations on convenient, comfortable accommodations.
We will take you to a recovery room where you’ll stay until you are breathing well and your blood pressure and pulse are stable. We also will begin pain control at this time.
After that, we will move you to a private patient room specially designed for the unique needs of joint patients.
As you get settled in, a nurse will help you to find comfortable positions. A nurse will also encourage you to do ankle-pumping exercises every hour or so to help protect against blood clots. It’s normal to feel discomfort after surgery, but we will provide pain management so you don’t suffer. Always let your nurse know about any pain you are having.
One of Holland Hospital’s staff physical therapist will begin working with you soon after surgery. The physical therapist will encourage you to move your ankles and other joints so they remain strong. During this time, your therapist will teach you about recovery, help you to begin walking, check your progress frequently and keep us informed. Additional information on rehabilitation after surgery is available here.
A joint replacement usually requires a one- to three-day hospital stay. Before you leave, your therapist will teach you how to dress and get out of bed without help. The care coordinator will help to set up any care you need once you return home. If your sutures or clips need to be remove, we will let you know who will remove them, where and when. For those coming from outside the area, we will find someone close to where you live.
When you get home, remember to take it easy.
Until you see us for your follow-up visit, you need to take certain precautions. Look for any changes in your incision and contact us if you have:
- Drainage and/or foul odor coming from the incision
- Fever (101 degrees or higher) for two days
- Increased swelling, tenderness, redness and/or pain
Returning to Regular Activities
By taking a less invasive approach to your hip repair or replacement, you spare major muscles from being cut during surgery. This may help you to recover faster. Many patients are back to normal activities within a few weeks. Keep in mind, though, that rehabilitation is hard work and how quickly you recover depends, in part, on your condition before surgery.
You may begin driving once you can bear full weight on your hip, usually within five to seven days. Be sure you are comfortable with your strength, and practice driving in a safe area before heading out into high-traffic areas.
Sexual intercourse may be resumed at any time as long as it is comfortable.
Usually, it’s about two to three weeks before you can resume low-impact aerobic activities such as bicycling and swimming. You may be able to resume certain higher-impact activities after two to three months. Be sure to check with us first.
We likely will see you six weeks after your surgery, then again at six months and/or one year after your surgery. You should see us at least every other year after the first year.
If you had a hip replacement, always tell your dentist or physician that you have an artificial joint before undergoing any treatment.