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.