Hip replacement surgery is used to replace damaged or worn parts of your hip joint with an artificial joint. Designed to help reduce pain and improve mobility, most hip replacements are performed on patients between the ages of 60 and 80, although they are sometimes performed on younger patients eg in the case of a hip fracture.
Once you’ve made the decision to undergo a hip replacement, it’s important to ensure that you do all you can to prepare for the operation. Preparation is just as important as following post-surgery advice. Your surgeon or GP can tell you exactly what you should do to get ready for the procedure.
However, here are some general rules to follow when preparing for hip replacement surgery:
It is a good idea to lose excess weight before surgery. Your doctor can tell you if this is needed in your particular case, as well as how much you should aim to lose. Losing weight can help reduce the chances of complications after your surgery, which can reduce your recovery time.
Reducing unhealthy foods (eg high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods) and doing low-impact exercises, such as swimming, can help you shed excess pounds. If you struggle to exercise, your GP or physiotherapist can recommend ways to help you get active and lose weight.
Your care team will provide you with exercises to do before surgery, which are designed to strengthen the muscles around your hip. This will help with your hip replacement recovery and help you get moving after your operation.
Simple exercises, such as walking and swimming, can also help strengthen and stretch your muscles. So staying as active as possible in the months and weeks prior to surgery is important.
If you're a smoker, you should quit before surgery. Nicotine in cigarettes can affect your blood flow and slow your recovery. You’ll also be at greater risk from complications if you smoke before your surgery and during your recovery.
Using nicotine replacements is not recommended as nicotine is partly responsible for the complications caused by smoking.
The best option to reduce your chances of complications and a prolonged recovery period is therefore to quit smoking altogether before surgery.
After your surgery, your mobility will be affected, which means it’s important to ensure your home is set up to reduce trip hazards. This may mean moving furniture around, removing rugs, setting up a place to sleep in a different room (eg in a ground floor room if your bedroom is normally upstairs) and making enough space to move with crutches or a walker.
You should make sure that everything you’ll need within the first week of your recovery is in the room where you’ll spend most of your time. This may mean setting up an area within easy reach for the TV remote, your glasses, books, magazines, phone and anything else you’ll need. Preparing and freezing meals in advance is also a good idea.
As well as getting your home ready, think about what else you might need to make things easier while you’re recovering.
Railings in the bathroom can make it safer when you need to go to the toilet or take a shower.
Self-help tools, such as long-handled shoehorns and reachers can make getting ready in the morning and picking things up easier, respectively.
You should also double-check any safety features you already have set up, such as stair railings, to make sure they’re secure.
After your surgery, you won’t be able to drive yourself home from the hospital. You should arrange for someone to collect you so they can help you into the car, get you home and help get you settled in and comfortable. It is also a good idea to have someone take you to the hospital rather than making your way there alone, as this can help ease any anxiety you may feel before your surgery.
Having people to help you during your recovery is important, so it’s a good idea to work out a plan with friends and family. This may include having someone stay with you for a few days, having regular visitors, and getting someone to do your shopping and anything else you might need.
If you don’t have people nearby to provide this support, you may want to talk to your GP about staying in a rehab centre after your surgery or look for short-term home care.
You should pack anything you need on a daily basis, as well as comforting items and things to provide some entertainment.
Your hospital bag should include:
You might also want to pack a book, your phone (and phone charger) and anything else you’re likely to want during your hospital stay.
If you have questions, speak to your GP or surgeon before your surgery. This will help you prepare both physically and mentally and ensure you know what to expect.
If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.
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