How long does it take to recover from a total hip replacement?

How much pain in involved in the surgery and the recovery process? How long before all pain subsides?

I have had both of my hips replaced in two separate surgeries. Although I worried a lot about whether I would have pain, I was surprised to find that the old arthritis pain was gone immediately, to be replaced with the discomfort that goes with an incision and stretched soft tissues. That pain gradually subsides. To be frank, the crick in my neck (from my position on the operating table?) was a lot more annoying than my hip on day 2! The worst pain while I was in the hospital occurred when they periodically turned me on my side.

As to the recovery time, it would be typical to be driving by week 5 or 6 so long as you aren’t taking any narcotic drugs that might impair judgement and you can safely operate the vehicle. Going back to work would depend on the nature of the work – sedentary job or one that requires physical labor might have different recovery times. I felt really good after a couple of weeks but was still using a walker or crutches. By 6-8 weeks I was down to a single crutch or a cane. Although I don’t work, I feel that I could have gone back to my old job (that required a combination of sitting with walking and being on my feet) at 7-8 weeks, even though I was still using a cane.

And, I was told by my surgeon, that strength can be regained for up to a year after surgery. Please have your surgeon advise you on all these things as he is the one who knows your case and knows what he did to you in the OR. And surgeons do differ slightly in their recommendations to patients.

I was hooked up to a patient-controlled-anesthesia machine for about 2 days. This delivers pain meds through the IV in a controlled manner plus it allows the patient to give herself an additional "boost" if needed. The machine is set so that the patient can’t overdose herself. Once I was taken off that machine on day 2, I began oral meds. I found the hospital staff very aggressive in asking me to rate my pain, usually on some sort of scale 1-10, and aggressive in treating my pain. I never rated any pain at a 10. Even the pain I experienced while being rolled to my side was fleeting and I put up with it because it felt really good to be able to spend even 30 minutes in that position.

My in-hospital pain med was oxycodone. I was sent home on day 5 with Tylenol3 (with codeine). The T3 made me nauseous so after hip #2 I refused to take it andgot by with OTC ES Tylenol and Tylenol PM to help me get to sleep. They worked fine. I had slightly different experiences with each hip; the second recovery was easier than the first. Could be that I learned what to expect and maybe there’s some advantage to having "been there; done that".

I really had no pain after I went home. The pain issue is overrated. I had more trouble trying to sleep on my back as ordered, or just plain sleeping at all. Ask for sleeping meds. I didn’t and should have.

2 thoughts on “How long does it take to recover from a total hip replacement?

  1. The first couple of days after sugery are usually quite painful, but pain control is a big focus in the hospital setting.

    Out of the three following joint replacement surgeries (hip, knee, shoulder), I feel that I observe the quickest rehabilitation with the hip, and when a minimally invasive procedure is done, it is also the least painful. With the minimally invasive procedure, most go home the next day…otherwise a hospital stay of 4 days is normal.

    Depending on what type of condition the person is in before surgery…ie, could they walk unassisted, did they go for walks regularly…the rehabiliation for the hip is the quickest. Many do not even need to come to outpatient therapy, they just finish with a few weeks of home therapy. Out of every 10 patients I see in the outpatient setting for a knee replacement, I only see one person with a hip replacement. This is because the mobility and strength in the hip come back much more naturally than with the knee which requires a lot of stretching.

    Most people will ambulate with a walker for 1-3 weeks and then transition to a cane, or nothing within 3-6 weeks. Many times sooner. The most difficult thing with the hip replacement is learning how to function within the "precautions." These are specific movements that are prohibited for at least the first three months after surgery. For example, they are not allowed to flex the hip beyond 80 or 90 degrees, therefore, they need to learn how to stand up with the leg out straight.

    Of course, those who have other health problems will be a little more delayed and may require and inpatient rehabilitation stay. This is especially true if the patient lives alone.

    Regarding the pain, the most severe pain will subside in days. Moderate pain may last more a month or two, but should be very intermittent. Minimal pain can be expected for 6 months to year…and very infrequently. Many people have told me that the pain they had with their arthritis was much worse than the surgical pain.
    References :
    I am a PT

  2. I have had both of my hips replaced in two separate surgeries. Although I worried a lot about whether I would have pain, I was surprised to find that the old arthritis pain was gone immediately, to be replaced with the discomfort that goes with an incision and stretched soft tissues. That pain gradually subsides. To be frank, the crick in my neck (from my position on the operating table?) was a lot more annoying than my hip on day 2! The worst pain while I was in the hospital occurred when they periodically turned me on my side.

    As to the recovery time, it would be typical to be driving by week 5 or 6 so long as you aren’t taking any narcotic drugs that might impair judgement and you can safely operate the vehicle. Going back to work would depend on the nature of the work – sedentary job or one that requires physical labor might have different recovery times. I felt really good after a couple of weeks but was still using a walker or crutches. By 6-8 weeks I was down to a single crutch or a cane. Although I don’t work, I feel that I could have gone back to my old job (that required a combination of sitting with walking and being on my feet) at 7-8 weeks, even though I was still using a cane.

    And, I was told by my surgeon, that strength can be regained for up to a year after surgery. Please have your surgeon advise you on all these things as he is the one who knows your case and knows what he did to you in the OR. And surgeons do differ slightly in their recommendations to patients.

    I was hooked up to a patient-controlled-anesthesia machine for about 2 days. This delivers pain meds through the IV in a controlled manner plus it allows the patient to give herself an additional "boost" if needed. The machine is set so that the patient can’t overdose herself. Once I was taken off that machine on day 2, I began oral meds. I found the hospital staff very aggressive in asking me to rate my pain, usually on some sort of scale 1-10, and aggressive in treating my pain. I never rated any pain at a 10. Even the pain I experienced while being rolled to my side was fleeting and I put up with it because it felt really good to be able to spend even 30 minutes in that position.

    My in-hospital pain med was oxycodone. I was sent home on day 5 with Tylenol3 (with codeine). The T3 made me nauseous so after hip #2 I refused to take it andgot by with OTC ES Tylenol and Tylenol PM to help me get to sleep. They worked fine. I had slightly different experiences with each hip; the second recovery was easier than the first. Could be that I learned what to expect and maybe there’s some advantage to having "been there; done that".

    I really had no pain after I went home. The pain issue is overrated. I had more trouble trying to sleep on my back as ordered, or just plain sleeping at all. Ask for sleeping meds. I didn’t and should have.
    References :

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