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Activity After Surgery

Watch the video to learn what to expect while going through rehabilitation and hear from patients who have gone through the process
Follow Your Surgeon's Advice

After undergoing hip replacement surgery, it is important you have realistic expectations about the types of activities you may do. Driving, sexual activity, walking, and other everyday activities will all be impacted in some way.

Driving may be resumed in accordance with the type of surgery you had. If the surgery was performed on your right side, your surgeon may ask you to wait longer than if you had surgery on the left side, assuming you drive a car with automatic transmission. In any case you must be able to move the leg easily from the gas pedal to the brake., and that time typically varies from 2-8 weeks depending on multiple factors. 

Sexual Activity
Resumption of sexual activity may be recommended anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks following surgery depending on the type of surgery. Your surgeon and physical therapist will discuss positions that maintain appropriate hip precautions if applicable.

Walking and Stairs
You will progress during your physical therapy program from your original walking aid (e.g., walker, crutches) to a cane. Eventually no supportive devices will be needed as long as there are no other problems that require long-term use of a walking aid. Eventually you will be allowed to climb stairs step over step. In most cases, patients begin with smaller-height steps and gradually progress to standard-height steps.

Work Activities
Determining the date you return to work will depend both on your surgeon and the type of work you do. Some individuals may require modifications of their job, while others may easily return to their previous activities. Those engaged in heavy manual labor may have to discuss the possibility of vocational counseling with their surgeon.

Leisure and Sport Activities
There are different risks associated with certain types of leisure and sport activities. Some activities may lead to damage of your artificial joint over time due to wear and tear of the joint. In general, the more vigorous the activity, the higher the risk of damaging the implant, increasing the wear and tear on the implant, or increasing the risk of loosening or dislocating the implant.

Three major categories of activities should be avoided. These include:

  • Activities that cause high-impact stresses on the implant
  • Activities with potentially high risk of injury
  • Activities that may result in falling or getting tangled with opponents, risking dislocation of the joint itself or a fracture of the bone around the implant. These types of activities include competitive racquet sports (such as singles tennis, squash, and racquetball), high-impact aerobics, high intensity jogging, water skiing, power gliding, Alpine skiing, mogul skiing, martial arts, rope jumping, and rough contact sports (such as football, soccer, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, handball, and volleyball)

Lower-stress activities such as golf, hiking, walking, biking, stationary skiing (e.g., Nordic Track), and swimming are excellent forms of exercise for individuals with a hip replacement. Others may also be considered for long-term sports or leisure activities including cross-country skiing, doubles tennis, table tennis, and bowling.

The way a hip replacement will perform depends on your age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. If you have conditions that limit rehabilitation, you should not have this surgery. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can tell you if hip replacement is right for you.

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