Hip Replacement Recovery – 4 Weeks Post Op.
I had my left hip replacement four weeks ago now and it’s safe to say that when I had it done I was so focused on the ‘new lease of life’ I was going to get that I hadn’t even considered what recovery would entail. I knew it would take time but figured it would probably mean just a few exercises and a bit of a limp for a while.
I have since learnt that hip replacement recovery is not a linear journey. It’s all over the place.
Post hip replacement there are a few rules you have to follow to avoid dislocating or damaging the new hip.
The first rule of hip replacement is Don’t Talk About Hip Replacement….
I jest, the first rule of hip replacement is don’t break 90 degrees – in my case this one lasts for the first 12 weeks. TWELVE WEEKS! This means that seats must be a certain height (including toilets) so that your knees sit lower than your hips. Bending to put clothes on or pick things up is not an option.
The second rule of hip replacement is the operated leg must not cross the body’s ‘mid-line’. That means no crossing legs or feet and sleeping on your back only.
As you can see these rules preserve the new hip but not one of them are comfortable or natural by any stretch of the imagination. This was going to be fun.
Hip Replacement Recovery Week 1
Although hospital was most unpleasant (not the place, just how I felt), the first week home was a struggle and not only because my new prosthetic and swollen leg that resembles a serrano ham ensured that I had gained a whole stone while in hospital
Before my operation I’d searched for a high back arm chair that was the appropriate height and had been unsuccessful. It seems that in our house, we have a passion for very low seating. I bought a booster cushion for our existing arm chair instead, this turned out to be a terrible idea. I would definitely not recommend it as a substitute, I spent this first week perched on my all wrong chair feeling sorry for myself and uncomfortable.
Although the hip pain itself has gone, a whole world of other new and exciting pains have arrived. There are muscle pains, nerve pains and my bones hurt – on more than one occasion I really, honestly wished I hadn’t bothered getting a new hip. Even morphine doesn’t take the pain away at night.
One complete bonus is that although I can’t do very much for myself, I am mobile. Getting in and out of bed isn’t easy, I need help lifting my leg but I can walk about everso slowly.
One of my lovely friends is a nurse and so she removed the big waterproof patch for me, we definitely pushed the boundaries of our friendship and she saw more of my lardy leg than any friend needs to see.
Recovery – Week 2
This week I’ve been able to move around with one crutch. I have done a few laps of the green next to my house, I kept tripping over my crutch which in turn made me swear out loud and I take corners too fast. The physio exercises are an absolute must in getting the muscle strength back but they make my good hip hurt instead.
I say good hip, I must remember I have two good hips now.
I thoroughly enjoy the newfound feeling of being able to stand, sit and walk without pain but I keep forgetting not to twist and bend. The problem is I’ve always had pain to remind me of my limitations, , because there is no pain it’s easy to forget that movement must remain limited in certain aspects. A woman on the Facebook group I’m in managed to dislocate her new hip 13 days post op by getting dressed. She had to go back for surgery to put it back and recovery has started again.
That is enough to make me more cautious. I don’t think I could cope with the hammering again *SHUDDER*.
I managed to source a proper high back chair which is a game changer and I’m pretty sure helps with the pain during the day. We set up a little nana corner for me in the window. I had my appropriate height chair next to an appropriate height surface, unfortunately being in the window it was draughty so I had to wrap a blanket around my legs.
I have definitely had a glimpse into my future nursing home life and you know what? I like it!
This week I discovered that I can drink alcohol with the blood thinners I am on, this is very exciting news – not sure I can steer my crutches drunk though…
Recovery – Week 3
I’m walking pretty well now if I do say so myself I still have a limp, I’m not entirely sure that my leg isn’t longer than it was before it feels like it totally gets in the way now.
I reckon I could totally do the school run but realistically it’s not an option. Besides it’s really rainy and windy so staying home is probably ‘safest’ (more pleasant).
My dressings came fully off this week and the wound looks good, my surgeon is clearly a dab hand with a needle and thread – I won’t put a picture here but obviously I took one if you want to see it!
Happily, my leg no longer represents a huge jambon but my left foot keeps swelling to pregnant proportions which is most unsightly, no one wants to sport a puffy foot.
Bearing in mind the ‘don’t break 90 degrees’ rule is in place until the end of April, my legs haven’t been shaved since before my op. I could bear it no more and so, on the day we celebrated 12 wonderful years together, I asked Rory something I never thought I would. He did a pretty good job and my hair free, mostly normal sized legs, made me feel happy again.
I went out for lunch with friends last week and coffee with friends this week, I really am lucky to have some great people on hand to look out for me. This week has been a really good week, I no longer have fleeting regrets about having the operation and I’m smashing this recovery. YAY ME.
Hip Replacement Recovery – Week 4
“I’m walking pretty well now if I do say so myself” turns out the physio disagrees. At my appointment she asked me to walk the length of the room “Yes, you’re not walking right, you need to practice walking properly”.
It turns out that ‘walking properly’ is harder than it sounds when you’ve been a bit wonky for a while, the result is me sashaying up and down the living room with my hands out to my side keeping me balanced – I fear my new ‘normal’ walk won’t be the same ‘normal’ as everyone elses!
This week I’ve coloured my hair, had my legs shaved again (could get used to that) and worn human clothes all week. I’m feeling more me by the day – sometimes.
I’m starting to feel a bit awkward now, people ask how the pain is and sometimes there is no pain. I feel like I’m faking it when the reality is I still need my raised toilet seat and nana chair and I still need to use my litter picker to get dressed. I’m thinking of replacing my actual hands with grabbers as I am bloody brilliant at them now.
It has been a week of ups and downs. I did a mile and a half walk pain free and raised my left leg without using my hands – both things I’ve not been able to do in YEARS.
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Check out my new found leg raising skills. This is actually, genuinely exciting to me. Learning to walk properly again is next on my leg 'todo' list. #hipreplacement #hipreplacementnotjustforoldpeople #hipreplacementrecovery #leedsblogger #hyacinthisworkingwell
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I also had a couple of days when I had to make noises getting up and down and struggled to move as well as I had the day before.
It really is bizarre, I feel like I’m making progress one day then back a step next day. I have to remind myself they cut through muscle and tendons, dislocated my hip, cut off a bit, hollowed out a bit, hammered a bit and stitched me right back up.
I’m allowed to still have wobbly and achey days.
I am absolutely desperate for a decent night sleep, I’m not sleeping for any more than 3 hours at a time as the discomfort and back pain won’t let me. I just want to have a good night sleep on my side or to curl up on a comfy chair rather than be all upright and rigid. I also really miss being able to snuggle with the kids on the couch. Seth has started bringing a small chair over next to mine so he can cuddle my arm, it makes me happy and sad.
I must confess to getting a bit fed up now. My roots need bleaching but can’t be done for 9 more weeks and I want my toenails painting but after seeing Rory paint a wall, I don’t think he’s up for that job!
Still, onwards and upwards!
Wish I had found this blog 4 weeks ago when I was a few days out of surgery for the same! You are spookily spot on. I am now beginning to feel a little bit more normal but wasn’t sure if my recovery experiences were! Turns out they are!! Thanks 🙂
It’s a funny old time isn’t it? That few weeks after. Here I am a year on and I still keep feeling like it’s too good to be true and that I’m going to wake with the pain again one day.
I hope your recovery is going well. x
I’m 3 and a bit weeks in after my second THR, I had the first one last year. I’m so glad I came across your blog, it describes exactly where I am. I’d forgotten just how much the first weeks are a mixture of progress and setbacks. One step forward, two steps back (literally), and shattered due to lack of sleep. Thanks for helping with my sanity 🙂
You are so nearly through the really hard bit! I hope your recovery continues to go well – soon there will be far more steps forward!
This is my 2nd hip replacement (first one was last year). I’ve found recovery more difficult this time round. I’m week 4 post op and still using a crutch for support. My partner said I’m more mobile this time round but I have aches and pains sporadically. As for sleeping, I haven’t had a good nights sleep since the op and resorted to afternoon napping but hey Ho it can only get better as time progresses
Hi, I`m a 59 year old male who, on the 1st November 2021, received his first hip replacement – so almost four weeks along and I still need a stick for walking, mainly balance and support. I`m fortunate in that I have at home, a treadmill and an exercise bike. I am walking one and a half miles (BUT, I can only do this by holding on to the handrails of the treadmill to support me) and more easily manage the exercise bike (about 3 to 5 miles each day.) Besides all this, I have been doing exercises daily given to me by the physio. I have come to the conclusion that I am a slow developer but I know it`s only a matter of time, I`m thinking this is going to be my best Christmas gift ever!
In life, I have been given `rugby players legs`, so as you can imagine, with 24 inch thighs and 17 inch calves, moving these through mid air takes a lot of strength and effort. Perseverance is the key in all of this! Also, I am thinking, my healthy dominant leg had become so strong and conditioned through all this time that it is naturally going to take my operated leg a long time to play catch up!
Sleeping! Arghhh, what a nightmare! I have never been a back sleeper but now, what choice do I have? I`ve been lucky if I slept for more than an hour and a half at a time, so now I sleep when I feel tired, as uncomfortable and as unnatural as it is to me, often just lying there, waiting to drop off again. I have now accepted this as an evil necessity in order to get to where i want to be.
Prior to the operation, my doctor told me, the ones who recover the quickest are the ones who build up strength in their damaged side but I only had this information a week prior to going in, so I would advise you, if you have plenty of time before your op, spend time (if you can) exercising and building strong hip and leg muscles. I know this is easier said than done, as if like me, you were in so much pain – how can you possibly exercise in this way?!
I can now safely move up and down the stairs without a crutch but definitely holding on to the handrail – BUT once I get to either top or bottom of stairs I am in need of support for walking. So, I`m getting there slowly – strength, balance and confidence! You know the funny thing is… sometimes I will have walked from the bedroom to the bathroom, for example, to clean my teeth, and when finished I look around for my stick to support me out of the bathroom, but subconsciously I had walked there without my aid. Am I going mad, losing my mind, or am I taking small steps without aid and without realising it?
Thank you for reading….. Alan
The back sleeping was the absolute worst part of it for me. Made me ache more than necessary!
George Ruddell. Aka Dorothy
I can empathise with your story of hip op! I was beginning to think that after 4weeks I would never be normal again. It’s down to sleep deprivation because of sleeping on the back. I absolutely hate it . My other hip needs fixed too so at the mo ment I’m struggling to walk properly. I only have pain in my non operated hip. The physio has little or no sympathy and I am dreading seeing him again. I had to pay for my new hip because the waiting time in N.I.just to see a consultant is 5years. I couldn’t have waited that long, so pop went some of my savings!
Thank you for sharing, it means a lot to me because I’m having my first hip replacement in October and the other one after 3 to 6 months. I’ve learned many things from your blog and decided to prepare myself more seriously, from getting strength in my muscles to practicing sleeping on my back. Also thanks to all who wrote comments, it’s all very helpful.