Hip Replacement Surgery: What to Expect at the Hospital

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Your recovery

After hip replacement surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. In a few hours, you will go to your hospital room. You may see a metal triangle called a trapeze over your bed. You can use this to help move yourself around in bed. You will be very tired and will want to rest. Your nurse may also help turn you as you rest.

You will probably get fluids through a tube in your vein called an I.V. You may also have a drain near the cut (incision) on your hip.

You may not feel hungry. You may feel sick to your stomach or constipated for a couple of days. This is normal. Your nurse may give you stool softeners or laxatives to help with constipation.

You may have stockings that put pressure on your legs to prevent blood clots. Your nurse may also give you medicines and exercise instructions to help prevent clots.

You may have an ice or cold pack on your hip for short periods of time.

Most people get out of bed with help on the day of surgery. Your doctor will let you know if you will stay in the hospital or if you can go home the day of surgery.

What will happen in the hospital?

Pain and pain medicine

  • You'll get medicine to help control pain. Some are given through an I.V. or by a thin tube near your spine. Others are taken by mouth.
  • Take the medicine as needed, but remember that it is easier to prevent pain before it starts than to stop it after it has started.
  • If you still have a lot of pain after you take your medicine, tell your nurse. You may need new medicine or to get the medicine in a different form.
  • You may also have some mild pain in your back. Changing your position in bed may help this. Tell your nurse you want to turn, and they will help you.
  • You may have an ice or cold pack on your hip for short periods of time.

Other medicines

  • Your doctor will probably give you blood thinners to prevent blood clots in your leg. You take this medicine during your hospital stay, and you may also take it after you go home.
  • Your doctor may give you antibiotics for about 24 hours after surgery.


  • Your rehabilitation (rehab) will probably begin the day of your surgery. Your physical therapist will get you started. It may be painful to exercise at first, but your nurse will give you pain medicine if you need it.
  • Your physical therapist will help you walk, go up and down stairs, and get in and out of bed and chairs. This therapist will help improve the range of motion and strength in your hip. You will learn positions and motions that will help keep your hip from popping out of the socket (dislocating). This is a very important part of your therapy.
  • How quickly you regain strength and motion and do things on your own depends on how well you follow your physical therapy. Your physical therapist will teach you the exercises, but you must do them yourself.
  • An occupational therapist will work with you. This therapist will teach you how to bathe, dress, and do daily activities. You may need tools to help with everyday activities. Tools include shower stools, shoehorns, and long-handled sponges.


  • You will probably get liquids at first, but you can begin to eat your normal diet when you feel better.
  • You may have more fiber added to your meals to prevent constipation.

Incision care

  • You will have a bandage over your incision. Your nurse will care for this.

Other instructions

  • Your nurse or respiratory therapist will have you do breathing and coughing exercises to prevent problems such as pneumonia. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and slowly breathe out through your mouth. Do this 3 times, and then cough 2 times.
  • You may have a device (incentive spirometer) that you suck air through to help keep your lungs healthy. Use this as your nurse or therapist tells you to.

When should you call for help?

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have a cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You are in pain, or your pain does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.