Getting ready for an upcoming hip operation? It’s normal to feel a little anxious while you wait, but there are ways to calm your nerves and make sure everything is in place for a smooth recovery.
Our advice on how to prepare for hip replacement surgery aims to make you feel relaxed and prepared ahead of the big day.
Preparing for hip replacement surgery in the UK – stay informed
When preparing for surgery, the first thing to do is research. Learning about and understanding the procedure and what will happen during your hospital stay will prepare you for the big day.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will go through all the patient education information you’ll need. This will include the risks, recovery process and all potential outcomes. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, this is the time to ask! Our list of questions to ask before hip replacement surgery will help ensure you haven’t missed anything important.
How to prepare for hip surgery physically
As in everyday life, you should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle when preparing for your hip replacement surgery. Being fit and healthy plays an important part in your recovery and can help a full and swift return to your normal daily life. The following tips will all help you physically prepare for your surgery.
We know the thought of exercise may be daunting when you are feeling stiffness or pain. But starting to strengthen the muscles around your affected hip before your surgery can help your rehabilitation. Ask your surgeon or physiotherapist for some safe exercises to try.
If you are overweight, you may be asked to lose weight by your doctor or surgeon before it’s safe to perform the surgery. They can provide you with nutrition and exercise plans to help you on your journey.
Even if you are a safe weight for surgery but have a couple of spare pounds, losing weight can still benefit you during your recovery. Prioritise eating a whole, balanced and varied diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and healthy proteins.
If you’re a smoker, one of the things you can do to prepare for surgery is quit. This is because smoking can increase the risks associated with hip surgery. Stopping smoking will not only have a huge impact on your overall health but could also speed up the recovery process. The NHS website has a collection of great content offering help and support for stopping smoking. You should also speak to your doctor or local health centre for resources to help with quitting.
The best exercises to prepare for hip replacement surgery
Both walking and swimming are great non-impact exercises to do to prepare for surgery. Physiotherapy exercises that strengthen the hips and knees will also help to speed up the recovery process.
Upper body strength exercises will make everyday tasks such as getting in and out of the bath much easier too.
Please note that it’s always best to seek medical advice before starting a new exercise programme.
Is it good to walk while waiting for a knee replacement?
You should try to remain as active as you can in the lead-up to your surgery. Walking is a gentle, non-impact exercise that’s accessible and will help to strengthen the muscles around the hip.
How to prepare your home for hip replacement surgery
It’s best to prepare your home before your surgery. This is because following surgery your mobility will be limited, you may feel tired and experiencing some discomfort. This could last for a few weeks following your surgery.
Making the following changes to your home will make your life easier and safer while you are recovering:
- remove any trip hazards from main walkways such as tasselled rugs or cables
- ensure you have a walking aid such as crutches or a walker to help you get around
- moving your bed to the ground floor will eliminate the need for stairs
- you may want to get a long-handled grabber for picking things up from the floor
- a shoehorn can help avoid bending while putting on your footwear
- a shower chair can make washing easier while reducing the risk of slipping
- installing bath handrails will make getting in and out safera
- a raised toilet seat or something to hold on to when sitting down and getting up from the toilet
- make sure you have some prescribed pain relief within easy reach of where you will spend most of your time
- stock up the fridge and cupboards with easy-to-prepare meals before your surgery – you may even want to freeze some meals so you have a quick and easy option when you get home.
How to mentally prepare for hip replacement surgery
Waiting for hip replacement surgery can be an understandable source of anxiety. If you’re feeling nervous about your upcoming operation, you might want to try some of the following ideas:
- talk to family members and friends about your worries – a problem shared is a problem halved!
- try to continue to carry out the activities that make you feel happy and relaxed. This can be hobbies like drawing or spending time with friends or pets
- mindfulness activities such as meditation, breathing exercises or gentle yoga can help to lower your stress levels and bring a sense of calm
- therapies such as talking therapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help if you have higher levels of anxiety that you find hard to manage
- consider the positive impacts that surgery will have on your life. Increased mobility and a reduction in pain will likely enable you to return to the activities you love.
What to pack for hip replacement surgery
Making a list of the things you will need during your hospital stay could help you to feel prepared for your hip surgery.
You’ll likely want to consider packing the following items:
- comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that are easy to put on such as joggers, t-shirts and sweatshirts
- enough changes of underwear and socks for your stay
- nightwear or pyjamas
- flat, supportive shoes like trainers
- a washbag of essential items i.e. toothbrush, deodorant, skin care and sanitary products
- something to entertain yourself such as a favourite book or crossword puzzle
- any prescribed medications you may need (please ask your doctor before taking medication for pre-existing conditions)
- glasses, contact lenses and dentures (if needed)
- hearing aids (if needed)
- your mobile phone and charger with contact numbers for family and friends
- a small amount of money
- healthy snacks
- your ID
- your medical insurance information (if an insured patient)
Where possible, you should avoid bringing any valuables or bulky items.
Arranging recovery care and support
Most people will need some care and support when they return home from surgery. You should arrange transport to take you to and from the hospital. Ask a family member or friend to help you settle back in. If they can help carry out some of your shopping and daily chores, even better!
If this isn’t an option, talk to your GP about arranging some primary care or support.
What not to do before hip replacement surgery
There are a few things to avoid while waiting for your upcoming hip replacement operation:
- High-impact activities or sport (such as football, rugby and skiing)
- Drinking alcohol. This can slow the healing and recovery process
- Taking blood thinners (if your doctor or surgeon has told you so)
- Try to avoid getting any cuts or grazes on your skin as it may stop your surgery from taking place due to the infection risk.
A final checklist
If you’re just days from surgery, here’s a final checklist of things to consider:
- Attend all of your pre-operative assessments and medical checks
- Make travel arrangements for getting to and from the hospital or medical centre. You won’t be able to drive immediately after surgery
- Check hospital visiting times to let friends and family know in advance
- Make sure you have support in the first 24 hours at home post-surgery
- Pack your hospital bag
- Get plenty of rest the night before surgery.
The day of your hip surgery
On the day of your procedure, you may need to stop eating and/or drinking a few hours before surgery. You may also need to remove body piercings, makeup and nail varnish.
Contact your health provider with questions and concerns
If you have any concerns, questions or worries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We provide patients with a pre-operative assessment to ensure that the procedure is right for you. We’ll explain your treatment and make sure that you are medically fit enough to proceed. It is also your opportunity to meet the team who will care for you and to ask any questions.
From preparations to recovery – learn more about total hip replacement surgery here.