Hip replacement tips
I had my left hip replaced 11 days ago and got out of hospital after two nights. Thus far my recovery seems to be going well so I thought I’d share some tips which might help anyone waiting for a THR.
I’m 69, reasonably healthy and not overweight. Until this year I used to enjoy regular eight mile walks but then osteoarthritis hit hard and I was only able to walk for 10 minutes. Initially the pains were in my thigh and I thought it was a muscular problem. I did lots of exercises proposed by a physiotherapist without any noticeable improvement. As NHS waiting lists were 12+ months and as I don’t have medical insurance I reluctantly decided to pay for a private operation.
During the three months waiting for the operation I did a lot of exercises to strengthen muscles. I also got a wobble board to help with balance. I think the investment of time in doing all this before the operation is helping my recovery.
Before the operation I raised my sofa on bricks and made a platform to raise my favourite chair. I find a reclining chair or lying on the sofa is more comfortable than sitting upright for any length of time. I also bought a sock puller and an easy grabber. These are incredibly useful. I hang the easy grabber on my crutch with a loop of cord so it’s easy to carry around and I’m less likely to drop it. I put some padding on top of the frame by the shower door which is a good hand hold to help getting in and out of the shower.
I found the raised toilet seat the hospital gave me to be an instrument of torture!! The pain caused me to move awkwardly and I heard a loud crack. Fortunately I don’t think I’ve done any lasting damage, but I bought a seat with frame. It cost £50+VAT which I think is good value for the added comfort and security. The seat is much more comfortable and the arms on the seat enable me to take some of the weight off the bruised and tender area around the operation site. It’s also easier to get on and off the toilet without bending more than 90 degrees.
No matter how careful I am I occasionally break the rules for not bending more than 90 degrees or twisting. Causes some pain but I don’t seem to have done any real damage and I can’t imagine anyone would be able to adhere to the rules 100%. Before the operation I did practice limiting my movements and using crutches to get up and downstairs. If nothing else this saved time during my time with the physiotherapist in the hospital.
A ruck sack is really useful for carrying things around when on two crutches. A water canister is useful for carrying drinks.
I’ve got a long handled shoehorn which is OK but requires a lot of fiddling to get the shoe just right. Maybe I need to practice more or maybe a wider shoehorn would be better.
Since the operation I’ve been diligently doing all the exercises and gradually building up walking. It’s not pleasant but it is getting easier and I can now walk 15 to 20 minutes twice a day with only two or three ibuprofen or paracetamol per day. I think the exercises are essential and are helping. The arthritis pains are completely gone but my hip and leg ache and feel sore but are not really very painful, which I think is wonderful given it’s a fairly brutal operation.
I tend to lose concentration while doing the exercises so I got a cheap electronic tally counter to keep track of the number of repetitions. My phone doesn’t seem to reliably count the number of steps walked, probably because I’m treading carefully, so I record the time of my walks rather than the number of steps. I created tick charts to record my exercises, walks and the medication I take which I find to be really useful. The injections to prevent blood clots have to be done alternately on left and right side of the abdomen and I’d never remember without a tick chart.
Constipation is a problem I expected. The hospital gave me some Movicol sachets which seem to work as well and a little more gently than Lactulose which I’ve previously used. I’ll need to buy some more unless things sort themselves out soon.
My first day out of hospital was really good, no doubt helped by all the pain killers. Things then went a little downhill. I expected recovery would be a bit up and down. Four days after the operation my thigh, hip and knee swelled up alarmingly. I didn’t realise this could be a delayed reaction but resting and sleeping with legs on a couple of cushions seems to have helped get the swelling back down to a small amount. I didn’t find ice helped but a heat pad does provide some comfort. Interestingly the operated hip sticks out more than the other and I don’t think that’s all just because of the swelling.
I’ve been instructed to sleep on my back for six weeks. I’m hoping a couple of pillows down my side and a knee cushion between my legs will stop me rolling over in the night. I find sleeping on my back leads to disturbed nights. Typically I wake every two hours and rather than lie in bed trying to get back to sleep I find it better to get up and potter around for five minutes.
This week I’ve got appointments with a nurse to remove the dressings and with a physiotherapist.
I’m indebted to my partner for all her help and support. Life would be virtually impossible without such help and kindness.
Sorry for the long rambling post but while I appreciate everyone is different, I thought anyone waiting for a THR might pick up one or two useful nuggets of information.