Sleep position after Hip Replacement


I am due to have a total hip replacement soon and my main concern is how on earth, as a very restless sleeper, I am going to keep "in position" during sleep. I don't think ordinary pillows strategically placed will stop me tossing and turning, potentially causing harm to the new joint. Has anyone tried the special Hip Abduction Pillows that I have seen advertised?


  • Tom
    Tom Member Posts: 522

    Hello, @YvonneKelly y and welcome to the forum.

    I see that you are concerned at the implications of your sleep issues and the upcoming hip replacement. This is a link to a current relevant discussion on the forum, that I hope you will find helpful.

    Here are other links from our website:

    Please let us know how your surgery goes and the best of luck.


  • RogerBill
    RogerBill Member Posts: 223

    Hi @YvonneKelly I had my hip replacement operation three weeks ago. Before then I was a restless sleeper constantly searching for a comfortable position. Since the operation I find I'm not restless in that way. I position myself close to the side of the bed (I was told to sleep on the same side of the bed as my operated hip. On the other side I have a couple of pillows and a knee pillow between my legs. I only use a knee pillow because I already had it. A friend's wife bought a hip abduction pillow and finds it good.

    However, I'm very much looking forward to the time when I no longer have to sleep on my back. I've been told this'll be six weeks after the operation. During the night I get stiff, ache and wake every two hours, sometimes less. I find if I get up and potter around for a few minutes eases the aches and stiffness and is better than lying in bed trying to get back to sleep. Another problem is soreness on the back of my heels. An old rolled up body warmer to raise the ankles and provide some softer support helps. The hospital bed had a heel pad to prevent pressure sores but these are expensive at around £150.

  • Coddfish
    Coddfish Member Posts: 85

    Hi @YvonneKelly It will depend on whether you are having posterior surgery (where they go in through your thigh) or anterior surgery (from the front). There are fewer restrictions on movement following anterior surgery, but it’s not suitable for everyone and each surgeon will have their own preference.

    I had my right hip replaced with posterior surgery 5 and a half weeks ago. The standard advice is sleep on your back for 6 weeks, but my surgeon also said I would eventually roll over and it would probably be ok. The issue when sleeping on your ‘good side’ is stopping your operated leg crossing the midline, most people sleep on their sides with the upper leg over (in the recovery position), which is a dislocation risk immediately following a posterior surgery. Lying on the operated side doesn’t risk this but means lying on the wound, which is also not recommended in the early phase. There is also internal healing going on, and I think lying on your back is the most comfortable position given all of this.

    I got one of the triangular wedge shaped pillows and I variously put that between my knees, or put a standard pillow under my knees. Both seem to stop me rolling and it depends whether I feel more comfortable with my legs straight out, or with my knees raised. I find I sleep in 2 hour blocks, wake up really thirsty (presumably mouth open because I am on my back), and end up in a cycle of drinking copious amounts of water, then going to the loo. It’s been a bit easier since it cooled down. At about 4 weeks, I started experimenting lying on my left side with both the wedge and a pillow between my legs to stop the operated leg coming over. It’s not great because it’s not a natural position, it makes it difficult to know what to do with your arms. My tolerance of it is gradually increasing - at first it was immediately uncomfortable, now it’s in the repertoire of positions I can lie in for an hour or two. Tolerance on the operated leg is still much lower.

    It’s all a bit of a pain, but quite short term. You will get through it.

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,742

    I had my left hip replaced 6 months ago. I also persevered with the six weeks sleeping on my back, despite normally being a front sleeper. To start with you'll be so tired you'll sleep hanging on the clothes line! I didn't think I'd cope but if you just resign yourself to it and make yourself as comfortable as possible you'll be surprised how you manage. I had a lot of post op pain (this isn't usual) so I slept on a long line of fluffy pillows from shoulders to knees, and with my feet propped on my knee pillow(!) to keep my heels off the matress and causing pressure sores. It worked fine. As a back up I had my crutches on the bed next to me so if I did roll over I'd land on them and wake myself up, but actually it never happened.

    The only sleep drawback for me was sleeping on my back gave me terrible restless legs, which did a one man tango for hours most nights and drove me crazy. I was also very stiff in the morning, but I soon loosened up once out of bed. I did occasionally roll onto my side to reach for something, but my hip felt so odd and "unstable" (not that it was) that I avoided doing it again and subconsciously this kept me on my back. However, I was fine after 7 weeks, normal postural service was resumed and the restless legs stopped overnight. I still sleep with a knee pillow to keep my legs spaced, as I find my hip is a bit sore without it, but it's not a major issue.