A collection of tips for those who are preparing for (or are recovering from) a hip replacement.
Professionals will give you advice about medical aspects but they may not advise you on all the personal and domestic problems you may experience as a patient.
This version is based on the experience of only one patient (in the UK) but further versions will be produced to include hints from others. I welcome your comments.
Always seek professional advice when in doubt.
B-L stands for Bad Leg (the one operated on)
G-L stands for Good Leg (the one not operated on)
Nurse, Physio, Carer stands for anyone acting in that role.
BEFORE THE OPERATION
Circumstances will differ widely so all times, prices etc are approximate.
Assume you will not be able to drive for 6 weeks.
Assume a dozen exercises plus a walk will take up to 2 hours a day.
Full recovery usually takes 6 months.
Work out how you will obtain various items of equipment, eg ROLLED TOWEL, ANKLE WEIGHT, CRUTCHES, EYE MASK, SPORTS BOTTLE, BENDY STRAW, SWEETS, UPRIGHT ARM CHAIR, THERMOS FLASK, TEA TROLLEY, ZIMMER FRAME, GRABBER, URINE BOTTLE, RAISED TOILET SEAT, LEG LIFTER, 6" DIAMETER TIN, SLIDING BOARD, STOCKING AID, PEDOMETER.
STRENGTHEN G-L BEFORE THE OPERATION
After the operation you will have to rely on G-L for things like getting into the sitting up position and getting out of bed. A month or two of exercises will help. Little and often is best eg 5 minutes 5-10 times a day for each exercise.
ROLLED TOWEL, ANKLE WEIGHT
A good exercise for G-L is to place a rolled up towel under the knee when sitting down and raise the foot for 10 seconds. Try doing it every time an advert comes on the TV. Progress to an ankle weight.
STAND UP FROM A CHAIR.
Fold hands across the chest. If too difficult at first sit on a book. If too easy use a lower chair.
Use G-L with as little support from a banister as possible. Daily Increase the number of stairs.
You will have to learn to use crutches sooner or later and it is better to learn before going into hospital instead of soon after the operation when the wound is most painful and you may have other problems. Practise for at least a week so it becomes a habit.
Private hospitals will charge you for your crutches. If your medical insurance covers them then ask them to agree that you are issued with them one or two weeks before the operation.
NHS hospitals will issue crutches when you are discharged.
You can hire them from the local Red Cross.
Walking with Crutches
If you cannot practiise with crutches then at least practise the sequence with 2 sticks. Left stick goes with right leg and right stick goes with left leg. It may sound simple but the sequence needs concentration to learn. Do not be misled by people who you see swinging two crutches together and hopping. They probably have a broken leg and are not 'hippies'.
Hold a banister with one hand. Hold the spare crutch in the other. I found this difficult so usually gave it to Carer. I could not find anything designed to clip the unused crutch to the one being used.
NEVER pivot on B-L. Walk around a small circle to turn round. I found it easiest to always turn so G-Lwas on the inside of the circle.
Standing crutches up
Crutches have a nasty habit of falling over. Then you not allowed to crouch down to pick them up! They are a little more stable if stood upside down with the plastic elbow rest on the floor.
If there us a convenient drawer then pull it out an inch and rest the crutch against it.
Hospitals leave lights on all night so you may have problems getting to sleep.
SPORTS BOTTLE/BENDY STRAW
Drinking from a glass requires you to sit up, which is painful for first few days.
Wrapped boiled sweets help when you wake up with a dry mouth and it is painful to reach the water.
Most pills only last one hour. Ask Nurse to liaise with Physio so that you take it just before exercise. If taken too early you will lose the benefit and not be allowed another for 4 hours.
GETTING INTO AND OUT OF BED
While in hospital Nurse will teach you and help you by supporting B-L. Ask Nurse to demonstrate supporting B-L to Carer as it can be painful if they get it wrong.
Once you are at home a leg-lifter makes you independent of Carer. I bought one for 12 in a local market.
If you have to cope without a Carer or a leg-lifter then hook G-L underneath the ankle of B-L to support it as you swivel across the bed.
UPRIGHT ARM CHAIR
I was told not to sit on a low chair or one that had a sloping seat. A dining chair is OK but one with arms will make it easier for you to stand up.
It is almost impossible to carry a cup of tea when using two crutches. You could use a thermos flask carried in a shoulder bag.
If you do not have a Carer to bring you food on a plate then you could push a tea trolley.
You should not be discharged until you are able to use crutches but I found the Zimmer frame a great help for the first week at home when getting up in the morning. Standing upright and getting dressed was much easier when I could steady myself on the Zimmer.. It was well worth 3 a week hire from the Red Crosst.
You will be warned not to crouch down and pick up items from the floor so this is essential, eg when a crutch falls over.
URINE BOTTLE vvv
Slight risk of bottle being full. Position a BUCKET so you can empty it and avoid disturbing Carer in the middle of the night.
RAISED TOILET SEAT
Measure how much space there is around your toilet. If there is room for one like an arm chair then this helps when lowering and getting up. A hard toilet seat is uncomfortable for the affected buttock and pushing on the arm is a relief.
The suction type us easy to fix where you need it to help you stand up. If you don't have one then push with a walking stick/crutch against the bottom of the wall behind the toilet.
6" DIAMETER TIN
I had to acquire this for one of the exercises . Lay on your back with tin under knee.of B-L. Slowly raise leg 5-10 times.
Two of the exercises I was given required a sheet of hardboard 2ft 6in square.
Put passenger seat as far back as possible, tilt the back of the seat, put a few sheets of plastic on seat to help pivoting round. Shopping bags work OK. Ask Carer to support B-L.
I was told not to drive, or even be a passenger on a long journey, for 6 weeks
ANTI EMBOLISM STOCKINGS
Blood clots are a major risk so I was told to wear these very tight stockings for 6 weeks. Theyare so tight that only Carer can put them on. Ask Nurse to demonstrate to Carer.
BUTYRITE STOCKING AID
I used one to put my socks on
.Is suitable for short socks.
The one for tights is at
I found that a pedometer motivated me to increase the distance that I walked each day.