Surgeries for hip replacement, the sol-called artificial hip joint, are considered routine procedure due to the rise of life expectancy of our population. Complications occur rarely. But if they do, then often because patients do not know what to avoid at any cost during the first couple of months post-surgery.
Because the artificial hip joint needs to “grow in” and the structures surrounding the surgical area need to recover and adapt to the new situation, the following must be adhered to: Do not perform any movements inducing great bend to the hip joint. Most common source of danger is sitting down on low seats or tying your shoes. The angle should never supersede 90° between your body and your legs.
Please make sure not to rotate the leg. This includes lying, walking and standing. When lying down, avoid spreading your legs like when performing the snow angel. While walking you need to be careful when changing directions, take small steps and don’t turn on the planted, recovering leg.
Also when walking, you should make sure the recovering leg does not cross over the middle of the body, meaning do not walk crossing over your legs. This counts also for lying, standing or sitting.
While sleeping the body’s position is also tricky: Lateral position on the recovering side is to be avoided. Lateral position on the healthy side may be resumed soon after surgery and after clarifying with your surgeon. However you should make sure to place a pillow between your legs, as you now know: The recovering leg may not pass over the middle of the body.
Getting into your car will also require some practice: The hips should not bend more than 90° – this means during the drive and getting in and out of the vehicle. Here too: Make sure to coordinate the transfer into and out of the vehicle well, the risk of crossing your legs is extremely high.
The reason for all these measures is simple. In all movements to be avoided, the tension on the freshly implanted joint would be too big, threatening to luxate. Worst case would mean that the surgery needs to be repeated.
Outward movements, so-called abduction, bending less than 90° and stretching are generally unproblematic movements by today’s surgery standards.
Nevertheless, we urge you to discuss these topics with the operating surgeon, as there might be deviations in your particular case. We also encourage you to follow the procedure recommended by your physician upon leaving the hospital. You should be able to find this in your exit report.