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Hip replacement surgery: How to avoid complications. Learn how.

Avoid complications after hip replacement

Hip replacement surgery can help people move better with significantly less pain. And it delivers these excellent results with a low complication rate.

Taking the following steps can help ensure that your recovery goes smoothly.

Avoid falls

Remove any loose rugs and floor clutter. If your bedroom is upstairs, you may want to sleep in a downstairs room while you recover. Ask someone to help you with daily tasks. And ask your doctor if you should use a cane, crutch or walker to safely get around while you heal. Don't stop using this device until your doctor says it's OK.

Move safely

Your doctor will give you instructions for how to safely sit, bend, sleep or do other activities during your recovery. For example, you should not cross your legs, raise your knees higher than your hips or bend at the waist more than 90 degrees. Your specific instructions will vary based on how your surgeon performed your hip replacement.

Go to your follow-up appointments

Your doctor will give you a schedule of follow-up visits. Don't skip any of these visits, even if your new hip seems fine. At these visits, your doctor will make sure your recovery is going well and that your implant is working as it should.

Prevent blood clots

Blood clots are a risk after many surgeries. To help prevent them, your doctor may have you take blood-thinning drugs and wear support stockings. And you may need to do ankle exercises to boost your blood flow. Ask your doctor to explain the signs of a blood clot (such as shortness of breath or leg pain, redness, tenderness or swelling) and what to do if you notice them.

Eat well

You may be less hungry in the weeks after surgery. But it's important to follow a balanced, nutritious diet. This can help your body heal. In addition, your doctor may have you take an iron supplement. Try to drink plenty of fluids—but avoid alcohol.

Follow your exercise plan

You will learn exercises to do at home or in a physical therapy rehab center. These exercises will help strengthen your hip and slowly increase mobility, helping you return to daily activities. You may need to continue your therapy exercises for several weeks.

Take care of your incision

Ask your doctor when it's OK to shower or bathe, as well as when and how to change the wound dressing that will be applied in the hospital. Learn the signs of an infection (such as fever or a red, tender or draining incision) and what to do if you notice them.

Use painkillers as directed

Your doctor may prescribe a combination of medicines to help with pain after surgery, including opioid painkillers. Be sure to use these medicines exactly as directed and only for as long as needed.

Tell your dentist

Let your dentist know you have a hip implant. There is a chance that bacteria can enter the bloodstream during dental work and travel to your hip joint, causing an infection. To help prevent this, you may need to take antibiotics prior to having some dental procedures.

What can you do with a new hip?

Learn about activities that you can and can't do with a hip replacement.

Find out

Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons

Reviewed 8/11/2021

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.