Discharge Instructions for Total Hip Replacement Surgery

You had a hip replacement surgery. This means your natural hip was replaced with an artificial joint (prosthesis). You may be recovering at home or in a rehabilitation facility. Either way, you must take care of your new hip. Do this by moving and sitting the way you were taught in the hospital. Also, be sure to see your doctor for follow-up visits, and return to activity slowly. Because a total hip replacement is major surgery, it will be a few months before you can move comfortably.

Home care

  • Take your pain medicine exactly as directed.

  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s OK. And never drive while taking opioid pain medicine.

  • Wear the support stockings you were given in the hospital. Wear them for 24 hours a day for 3 to 4 week(s).

  • To relieve discomfort at night, get up and move around.

  • Tell all your healthcare providers—including your dentist—about your artificial joint before any procedure. You may need to take antibiotics before dental work and other medical procedures to reduce the risk of infection.

  • Arrange to have your staples removed 2 week(s) after surgery. The staples were used to close the skin incision.

Incision care

  • Check your incision daily for redness, swelling, tenderness, or drainage.

  • Avoid infection by washing your hands often. If an infection occurs, it will need to be treated immediately. So call your doctor right away if you think you may have an infection. Symptoms include a fever or an incision that leaks white, green, or yellow fluid.

  • Avoid soaking your incision in water (no hot tubs, bathtubs, swimming pools) until your doctor says it’s OK.

  • Wait 5 to 7 days after your surgery to start showering. Then shower as needed. Carefully wash your incision with soap and water. Gently pat it dry. Don’t rub the incision, or apply creams or lotions to it. And to avoid falling when showering, sit on a shower stool.

Sitting and sleeping

  • Don’t sit for more than 30 to 45 minutes at a time.

  • Use chairs with arms, and sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips. Don’t sit on low or sagging chairs or couches.

  • Don’t lean forward while sitting.

  • Don’t cross your legs.

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. Don’t turn your foot or leg inward. This stresses your hip joint.

  • Use an elevated toilet seat for 6 weeks after surgery.

  • Ask your healthcare provider if it’s OK to sleep on your stomach or on the side that has the new hip. Use pillows between your legs when sleeping on your back or on your side.

  • Sit on a firm cushion when you ride in a car and avoid sitting too low. Try not to bend your hip too much when getting in and out of the car.

Moving safely

  • Don’t bend at the hip when you bend over. Don’t bend at the waist to put on socks and shoes. And avoid picking up items from the floor.

  • Use a cane, crutches, a walker, or handrails until your balance, flexibility, and strength improve. And remember to ask for help from others when you need it.

  • Free up your hands so that you can use them to keep balance. Use a fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things.

  • Follow your doctor’s orders regarding how much weight to put on the affected leg.

  • Walk often and do prescribed exercises as instructed.

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, an elevated toilet seat, and a shower chair in your bathroom.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your doctor.


When to seek medical attention

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

Otherwise, call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Increased hip pain

  • Pain or swelling in your calf or leg

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C) or shaking chills

  • Excessive swelling, increased drainage or redness around the incision

  • Swelling, tenderness, or cramps in your leg


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