Caregiver holding the hands of a senior helping them walk

Healing After Hip Replacement Surgery

Surgery can be tough on anyone, but it’s especially difficult on seniors because they tend to heal more slowly and have an increased risk of complications. That’s why it’s important that seniors get proper post-surgery care. Hip replacement surgery is one of the most performed elective surgeries. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), more than 450,000 total hip replacement surgeries are done in the United States each year. This number is expected to reach 635,000 surgeries annually by 2030.

For people with chronic hip pain that is not relieved with other treatments, hip replacement surgery is an effective treatment option. However, hip replacement recovery may take several weeks or even months.

If you or a loved one is having this procedure, you may be wondering what hip replacement recovery will be like and how long it will take to heal. We’ve provided tips on how to have a safe and swift recovery from hip surgery.

Before leaving the hospital

A patient usually stays at the hospital one to four days after surgery, depending on the person. Before being discharged from the hospital, the patient will need to accomplish several goals, such as:

  • Getting in and out of bed independently
  • Having acceptable pain control
  • Being able to eat, drink and use the bathroom
  • Walking with an assistive device (a cane, walker or crutches) on a level surface and being able to climb up and down two or three stairs
  • Being able to perform the prescribed home exercises
  • Understanding any hip precautions advised to prevent injury and ensure proper healing

After leaving the hospital

At first, performing usual daily activities, such as cleaning, cooking and bathing, will be difficult to do independently. That’s why it’s essential to have a support system in place to ensure you’re able to get through your day safely and have a successful recovery.


By the time you go home from the hospital, you should be eating a normal diet. According to AAOS, your doctor may recommend iron and vitamin supplements. You also may be advised to avoid foods rich in vitamin K if you are taking a blood thinner medication. Foods with vitamin K include broccoli, cauliflower, liver, green beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, spinach, kale, lettuce, turnip greens, cabbage and onions.

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol. You should continue to watch your weight and eat healthy to avoid putting more stress on the joint.

Exercise & Mobility

Your doctor and physical therapist will provide a list of do’s and don’ts to remember with your new hip. AAOS says these precautions will help prevent the new joint from dislocating and ensure proper healing:

The Do’s

  • Keep the leg facing forward
  • Keep the affected leg in front as you sit or stand
  • Use ice to reduce pain and swelling; use an ice pack or wrap it in a damp towel
  • Apply heat before exercising to assist with range of motion; use a heating pad or hot, damp towel for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Reduce the amount of exercise if you are in pain but continue to stay active and resume exercises as soon as possible
  • Keep the incision area clean and dry to prevent infection

The National Library of Medicine has said between 3% and 4% of hip replacement patients have at least one episode of hip dislocation, making it the single most common complication to hip replacement surgery. Hip dislocation can be painful and a potentially serious complication that requires a second surgery.

The Don’ts

  • Cross your legs at the knees for at least 6 to 8 weeks
  • Bring your knee up higher than your hip
  • Lean forward while sitting or as you sit down
  • Try to pick up something on the floor while you are sitting
  • Turn your feet excessively inward or outward when you bend down
  • Reach down to pull up blankets when lying in bed
  • Bend at the waist beyond 90 degrees

Recovering at home is possible, but it’s certainly not ideal. Your home likely isn’t designed to be a comfortable, safe environment for a senior who has just left the hospital – and it doesn’t come complete with a full staff of highly trained nurses, caregivers or chefs. The best way to recover from a surgery, like a hip replacement, is to choose a rehabilitation center like Charlton Place Rehabilitation & Health Care Center.

At Charlton Place Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, we have the knowledge and experience to address each senior’s unique needs. With advanced physical therapy, we have a treatment plan for a fast and safe recovery from hip replacement surgery. And thanks to our 24-hour nursing support, you and your family will have real peace of mind that quality care is always available.

Want to know more? We’re always ready to answer your questions. Contact us today.