Life with your new hip

 


One of the main reasons for having a hip replacement is to regain the quality of life you enjoyed before your hip became a problem. To this end we encourage people to be as active and mobile as possible with their new hip. This includes participation in sport and outdoor activities. However, it is also important to remember that a hip replacement is an artificial joint and is never quite the same as a natural hip. Unlike a natural hip it cannot heal itself if something is strained or breaks. It can also wear or loosen with time and this is more likely if you are extremely active. A sense of compromise and a balance between activity and over use is necessary and activities which involve squatting, or landing heavily on the affected leg are best avoided.


The following advice applies once you are fully weight bearing and have been passed as fit to return to normal activities (usually between 6 and 12 weeks after the operation).


Work

Most people are ready to return to office based or sedentary jobs 6 to 8 weeks after their operation. People with heavier jobs, such as farming, nursing or building work, usually need to wait for about 3 months before going back, although they may be ready for lighter duties, or supervisory roles before then. Jobs involving driving cannot restart until 6 weeks at the earliest.


People can get back to almost any type of job after a hip replacement. If you have a heavy manual job, consider which tasks you can delegate, or aids you can use to protect your hip in the longer term.


Driving

You can start to drive again after 6 weeks, but you may want to stick to short journeys until you regain your confidence and be aware that your reaction time for braking may be slower if you have a right hip replacement.


Flying

Air travel should be avoided for the first 6 weeks. When you do fly on long haul trips it is a wise precaution to wear below knee stockings and to take aspirin (1 tablet a day) for a few days before and after the flight to reduce the risk of blood clots (DVT).


If any prolonged travel (road or air) is planned in the first 4 weeks, we advise you to speak to your surgeon or GP as anti-DVT injections may be advisable.


Walking

Walk as far as you like, as soon as it is comfortable. For long distance or cross country walks, a hiking pole or stick may help, especially in the first few months.


Sitting

You no longer need to use a high or raised chair after 6 weeks, but it is always a good idea to avoid very low seats, which may strain your hip and be difficult to rise from.

Kneeling

This is fine any time after 6 weeks. To kneel, go down on the operated leg, taking your weight forward through the non-operated leg. To come up from the kneeling position, take your non- operated leg forward, take your weight through this leg and push up into standing. If you have had both hips operated on, hold a support and take the weight through the leg you feel is strongest.


Bathing

Wait at least 6 weeks before attempting to have a bath. Have someone else to help, if possible, the first time you try the bath. Sit on the side or end of the bath and swing your legs in. Keep your operated leg straight as you get in and out, and lower yourself in and out by taking your weight through your arms. When you are in the bath, you can relax your leg. It is advisable to use a non- slip mat in the bath.


Gardening

Lighter activities, especially working at waist height in the green house or potting shed can begin as soon as comfortable. Wait 6 weeks before kneeling or bending (see above), and 12 weeks for heavy work such as digging. A garden kneeling stool is often helpful as squatting should be avoided


Dancing

Feel free to dance and have fun!


Gym/ aerobics

You can start using a treadmill, exercise bike and light weights from 6 weeks. We don’t recommend using a rowing machine, as this can force the hip into a very bent (flexed) position.


Swimming

You can swim as soon as your wound is fully healed and your muscles are working well (usually about 6 weeks). Swim using any stroke you wish.


Golf

You’ll be in good company in most golf clubs, as many golfers have had a hip or knee replacement. Get back on to the putting green from 6 weeks, but don’t build up to a full game until about 3 months. We can’t guarantee your handicap will fall though!


Tennis/ badminton/ cricket

We would not normally recommend getting back to these sports before about 3 months. Learn the expressions ‘good shot’, ‘yours’ and ‘well done’!


Squash

Not recommended as the repeated jarring of the joint may lead to excessive wear and loosening in the long term.


Running

Short distances are fine, but long distances risk wearing the joint and may reduce how long it lasts.


Contact sports (rugby, football, contact martial arts)

Not advised. Although some high profile celebrities have done so, we do not recommend subjecting an artificial hip to these risks.


Skiing

If you are already a good skier, enjoy it, but be sensible. A bad fall can risk a dislocation or fracture, and the harder the slope the greater the risk. Know your limits, and ski within them. We don’t advise taking up skiing for the first time after a hip replacement, as some spectacular falls are almost guaranteed.


Windsurfing/ waterskiing

Like skiing, not good sports to take up after a hip replacement! If you are already competent, and anxious to get back, do so, but be sensible. Deep water sports on a board or mono-ski place a great strain on your hips, and should be avoided. Always wear a life jacket, and never go out alone. A bad fall can result in a dislocation, which could be life threatening if help is not at hand.


Sailing

On large boats, get back on board as soon as you can move about freely and comfortably (usually 2 to 3 months after your operation).


In smaller dinghies, be careful to avoid extremes of bending or twisting, and follow the usual rules to avoid risking a dislocation. A life jacket is strongly advised. Follow the tips for windsurfing (above).



Above all, enjoy your new hip and the freedom to be active that it gives you. Get out and about, keep fit and take part in almost anything you want to, but be sensible. However good it is, it’s not the same as a natural hip, and needs a little extra care.