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Looking after your new hip joint

You may not be able to bend your leg towards your stomach as far as you’d like to – it’s important not to test your new joint to see how far it’ll go. You need to take great care during the first 8–12 weeks after the operation to avoid dislocating the hip. But it’s also important to continue with the programme of muscle-strengthening exercises recommended by your physiotherapist.

There are some general rules to remember as you start to become more active:

  • Don't twist your body as you sit or stand.
  • Don't bend your hips past 90o (a right angle).
  • Don't cross your legs or feet.
  • Don't roll your knees or toes inwards.

Getting back to normal

You’ll be expected to sleep on your back with a hip abduction wedge (a support to keep your legs stable) between your legs for the first 6 weeks.

You’ll probably need walking sticks for the first 4–6 weeks, but this varies between individuals. Your surgeon or physiotherapist will be able to advise how well you’re progressing.

You’ll probably be able to have sex after about 6–8 weeks, although you should avoid extreme positions of the hip. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice about suitable positions – you won’t be the first to have asked. Read more about sex and arthritis.

Can I work and drive afterwards?

You can expect to drive again after about 6 weeks, as long as you can safely control the vehicle and do an emergency stop. It’s important to check with your insurance company whether you’re covered during your recovery, and you need to be confident that you can adequately control the vehicle in all situations.

Getting in and out of a car can be difficult – you’ll need to sit sideways on the seat first and then swing both your legs around together. Some people put a plastic bag on the car seat to make it easier to swivel round. Your occupational therapist will advise you about other movements that you need to take special care with.

You could also return to work at this stage if you have a job that doesn’t mean too much moving around. If you have a job that involves a lot of walking, you may need up to 3 months to fully recover before returning to work. If you have a very heavy manual labour job, you may wish to consider changing to a lighter form of work.

 

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