Most people take about six weeks to recover from hip arthroscopy surgery. In that time, they are unable to do certain activities and must get plenty of rest. For some, the procedure can be a source of stress. Knowing what to expect after hip arthroscopy surgery and how to prepare for the recovery period is a good way to minimize stress and make the process easier overall.
Physical Symptoms and Discomfort
Most people experience discomfort during their recovery, especially in the area around their hip, lower back, buttock, knee, and ankle. The buttock, hip, and groin may become bruised and swollen. Patients also feel excessively tired in the weeks directly following their recovery. Swelling should go down within a few days and the bruising will go away with time.
Post Operative Pain Management
Your doctor will give you advice to help you manage your pain and discomfort. Always follow the pain management advice of your physician over information that is aimed at the general population, like information found online and in informational packets. Some advice your doctor is likely to give you following your hip surgery includes:
- Apply an ice pack to your hip every couple of hours for about 20 minutes each time, as long as you are awake. Wrap the ice pack once in a thin towel or a t-shirt – don’t apply it directly to your skin.
- Take pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication as directed by your doctor.
Know When to Get Help
Most patients have a smooth recovery after their hip replacement surgery. However, if something goes wrong, you’ll need to know when to seek medical care. In general, if something changes, and you feel elevated levels of discomfort or illness following your surgery, it’s best to check in with your physician. Specifically, watch for the following:
- Pain in your calf, thigh, groin, or back of the knee.
- Nausea, vomiting, unable to keep food or fluid down.
- Bleeding around the incision that soaks through the bandage.
- Tingling, numbness or weakness, a cold feeling or changes in color in your foot or toes.
- Pain does not improve after taking pain medication.
- Red streaks lead up from the incisions.
- Pus drains from the incisions.
- You run a fever.
How Should You Prepare Your Home?
Your physical limitations mean that you’ll want to prepare your home in advance before the surgery occurs, so you can rest and be comfortable during your recovery.
Keep Items In Easy Reach
Prepare a bed that is low to the ground and in easy reach of the floor, so that your feet touch the floor when you sit on the edge of the bed. If possible, set up a bed on the first floor of your home, within easy reach of a bathroom that is on the same floor. Think about the things you need throughout the day (phone charger, book to read, laptop computer, things of this nature) and put them in easy reach, so they are not on the floor or in a location that is difficult to access.
If you live alone, have pre-made meals prepared and frozen, so you can pop them into an oven when you’re ready to eat. Ask for help from a friend who can come over and be with you for the first week or two following your surgery, or find a trained caregiver to spend time with you for those first couple weeks.
Get a reacher, a sock aid, and a shoehorn with a long handle to help with things like removing your socks, putting on your shoes, putting on your pants, etc.
Clear the walkway in parts of the house where you will be spending time. Remove rugs that could become tripping hazards. Get rid of cords that could be in the way and secure loose doorway thresholds that could lead to falls. Install nightlights that come on when darkness falls, especially in your bathroom and hallway. If you have a pet that is often underfoot, consider having your pet sent to live with a relative or a friend during the first week or two, when mobility may be especially challenging.
Get Your Bathroom Ready
Install some grab bars at your toilet seat and in your shower or bathtub to make it easier and safer to bathe and use the restroom. Never use your towel rack as a grab bar, as towel racks are not nearly as secure and are not designed to support weight.
Other ways that you can make your bathroom a safer place:
- Install silicone decals or a rubber mat in your bathtub to prevent falls. Install one or two non-slip rugs outside your bathtub for the same reason.
- Put everything you need in your bathroom (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, extra toothpaste, etc) in a place where you can easily reach it. Do not assume you’ll be bending down to reach items under your sink.
- Install a shower or bath chair in your shower or bath to make bathing easier.
When Can You Go Back to Work?
Most people take at least one or two weeks away from work during recovery. Wait until your physician has given you the okay to go back. If you have a physically demanding job that requires lifting, pushing, carrying or pulling, you may need to go back to work on a limited basis and perform functions that do not involve these physical activities. Speak with your doctor and follow all recommendations. Most people need at least three months before they can lift heavy objects again. If you have a desk job, you may find returning to work much easier.
Is There a Recovery Timeline?
- First several days: Use crutches to be mobile. This will limit how much weight you’re putting on your hip.
- End of the first two weeks: See the doctor for a post-operative appointment. Your doctor will inspect and remove the stitches.
- First four weeks: Use a brace that limits the motion of the hip.
- First eight weeks: Avoid prolonged walking or standing. Do not crouch, squat, lift heavy objects or sleep on your side. Avoid driving a manual car.
You’ll take about six to eight weeks before you can walk free from pain, but it could be up to six months before you’re fully back to normal levels of fitness.
Want to Know More About Hip Arthroscopy Surgery
Work with your physician to learn more about your upcoming hip arthroscopy surgery. Contact Full Circle Orthopedics to find out more about what to expect during your recovery and how to make that time as low-stress as possible.