American Family Children's Hospital

What to Expect After Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Contact Information

(608) 263-7540 


Joint Replacement Care Plan

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Physical Therapy
After undergoing total hip replacement surgery at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, some patients may begin physical therapy on the day of surgery; others will begin the day after. The therapist will come to your room. You will learn how to:
  • Move comfortably in bed
  • Get in and out of bed safely
  • Use the walker or crutches to walk and go up and down stairs
  • Get in and out of a car safely
  • Protect your hip during these activities

Talk with your nurses about taking pain medicine before your physical therapy. It's also a good idea to have a family member or friend attend one therapy session with you, so that they can see how you walk and what exercises you are doing.


In the hospital, physical therapy is usually scheduled twice per day to improve the strength and flexibility of your leg. Once home, the exercises should be continued two to three times per day for three months. You then switch to a maintenance program doing the same exercises three times per week for at least a year.


While in the hospital, an occupational therapist will train you on assistive devices so that you are able to bathe, dress and fix meals. Some of the devices that others have found helpful include:

  • A dressing stick
  • A long-handled sponge
  • A stocking aid
  • Elastic shoelaces
  • Long-handled reachers
  • Bathroom aids

Due to your hip precautions, you will not be able to reach your feet. You will either need daily help with self-care or you will need to use assistive devices to help you be more independent.


Pain Relief


Your pain will be managed with a combination of powerful and effective pain pills. If you cannot take pills, you will be given pain medication through your IV. You should still expect some pain after your surgery. Your nurses and doctors will assess your pain throughout your stay and adjust the medicine as needed to increase your comfort level.


Blood Clot Prevention


People who have hip surgery are at higher risk for getting blood clots. To decrease the risk of a blood clot, you will be taking medicine to thin the blood. Most patients take this medicine for up to six weeks. While taking it, your blood may need to be drawn to check its "thinness." If your blood needs to be drawn, a nurse case manager or social worker will make the arrangements. They will discuss the details with you before you go home.


You will also need to wear elastic stockings for six weeks after your surgery. You should remove them two times each day for skin care.


Lifetime Hip Precautions


Because your replaced hip joint will not be as stable as your original joint, lifetime modifications in your activities are necessary to prevent hip dislocation (popping the ball out of the socket). Patients with hip replacements should adhere to the following rules as often as possible:

  • Do not cross the hip replacement leg across the other leg
  • Do not bend the artificial hip more than 90 degrees (knee should stay below your belt)
  • And do not let your hip turn inward (i.e. pigeon-toed)

Questions and Concerns


If you have questions or concerns, please call the Orthopedic Clinic at (608) 263-7540 on weekdays between 8am and 5pm.


On nights and weekends, call (608) 262-0486. If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942. Ask the operator to page the "orthopedic resident on call." Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.