3 Tips For A Speedy Recovery Following Hip Replacement Surgery

05/15/2010 - 10:05 in AngelesHealth
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Orthopedic surgery often requires a long recovery period especially in hip replacement surgery. Full recovery after hip replacement surgery typically requires up to six months, but by following the physical therapy exercise program provided by one's surgeon, the recovery period can be minimized. Communication with the surgeon is important to find the appropriate level of activity following surgery for each individual.Since medical travel to Mexico usually requires travel to and from the hospital on an airplane, it's important to know how much movement is possible and how to speed up recovery once you've returned home from medical travel in Mexico.

When To Move And How Much?

Simple tasks such as getting out of bed, sitting up and walking can be a struggle immediately after hip replacement surgery. Knowing what to expect and preparing for it is helpful to the healing process. In the first few weeks after surgery, hip replacement surgeons often give the following direction:

  • When getting out of bed, the recovering individual should get out on the same side as the hip, which was recently operated on. Pivoting around and keeping the leg straight - not twisting the leg - is important. Finally, sit on the edge of the bed and use something for support to stand up, without bending forward.
  • Those covering from surgery should sit in firm, straight backed chairs that have a high seat and armrests. “Comfortable” chairs (sofas, recliners, or any furniture that sits lower to the ground or is overstuffed) are not a good idea. The operative leg should always be elevated to reduce swelling and you should not flex the operative hip past 90 degrees.
  • It is usually necessary to use a walker or crutches for several weeks post-surgery. There may be some changes in lifestyle, such as keeping items on shelves which won’t require bending. The hip replacement surgeon will advise of risky movements that should be avoided.

Exercise? Yes, Exercise!

After having a joint replaced like in hip replacement surgery, the last thing on most people's mind is getting up and putting weight on the joint or exercising, but by following the right exercises, strength and flexibility can be restored. Some of the best exercises to strengthen and heal the join include:

  • Ankle pumps and rotations: While lying flat on their back, an individual can slowly push their foot up and down. These ankle pumps can begin after surgery and continue throughout the recovery, for about five to 10 minutes each day. Additionally, they can move their ankle in (towards the other foot) and then out, for rotations which should be done just as frequently.
  • Knee bends: While lying in bed, the individual should slide their heel towards their buttocks, keeping their heel on the bed. It’s important not to let the knee fall outward. This can be done several times a day.
  • Quadriceps set: Also while lying in bed, one can tighten the thigh muscles and try to straighten their knee. Attempt to hold this for 5 to 10 seconds.

There are hundreds of exercises to use for a successful recovery from surgery. However, the best and most important exercises to follow are those that are provided by hip replacement surgeons, as they are customized to the unique needs of a medical traveler.

A Safe Zone Is Imperative

The majority of time immediately after hip replacement surgery is spent in bed. The bedroom should be prepared ahead of time to create a safe zone. Before traveling to the hospital, it's important to plan ahead by removing all obstacles in the room. A comfortable bed is very important and many recovering from hip replacement surgery find that adding an egg-crate foam mattress top to their bed makes the time in bed more comfortable. Having clean linens on hand are also imperative so that those helping with recovery can change bedding as needed.

The safe zone should also allow an area for doing standing exercises and walking and should allow space since crutches or walkers are usually prescribed by hip replacement surgeons to assist in walking in the immediate weeks after surgery. It’s also important that this sleeping area be within safe walking distance of a bathroom without the need to climb up or down stairs.  Easy access to food must also be considered .

Recovery time differs for every individual, but by planning ahead, asking one's family and friends to assist and following hip replacement surgeon's advice, you can do your best to speed it up.

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