What to expect before, during and after hip replacement surgery

Elder couple

The physicians and our team at Adventist Health Simi Valley have worked closely together to develop a joint replacement program that provides a comprehensive continuum of care and ensures you have the information, care and support you need for your success. Below is quick glimpse of information to help prepare you for your experience.

Before surgery

Educational Classes – We invite you to attend an information session where you can meet your care team, learn about the procedure and the importance of your role in the treatment plan. The classes cover all the details you will need, what appointments and tests are required prior to and after surgery, exercises which can prepare you prior to and after your surgery, as well as tips on how to prepare your home for when you return. The more information you have, the more successful you will be.

Exercises – One of the most important ways to prepare yourself for surgery includes exercises that will strengthen muscles around the hip and improve mobility. They aren’t always easy, but they are an important part of your preparation, treatment and recovery process.

Medications – There are some medications we ask you to stop taking prior to surgery. Vitamins, herbal supplements, prescription diet medication and some rheumatoid arthritis medications should be stopped two weeks prior to surgery. Seven days prior to surgery we will also ask that you stop taking any blood thinners such as anticoagulants, anti-platelet agents (Coumadin, Plavix, Effient), aspirin or compounds containing aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication (Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Naproxen, Naprosyn, Diclofenac).

Coach – We strongly recommend that you identify a coach, family member or friend who can support you throughout the process and who can fully participate in activities both before and after the surgery. This includes driving you home from surgery and to your physical therapy appointments, as well as help with daily activities.

Day of surgery

Prior to surgery – We ask that you arrive early and plan to wear comfortable clothes. Your physician or a member of the care team will meet with you to discuss any questions you may have.

Anesthesia – Your anesthesia team will review the pre-admission information and conduct a brief interview with you. Most patients receive a spinal anesthetic with sedation for their joint surgery, a preferred method because of its simplicity, postoperative pain control and avoidance of general anesthesia, although general anesthesia is also an option.

Surgery – Inside the operating room you will be cared for by a team of physicians, physician assistants, nurses and skilled technicians. The total time required for your surgery will be approximately 90 minutes, although every patient is different.

After surgery

Recovery – After surgery, you’ll be moved to a recovery area while you recover from the effects of anesthesia. Medical staff will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, alertness, pain or comfort level and your need for pain medications. They will also apply foot compression pumps which will squeeze your legs at regular intervals to circulate blood to help prevent clotting and ice packs to keep your hip joint cold in order to reduce pain and swelling. Once you are ready, you will then be moved to a hospital room in the orthopedic unit to begin your recovery.

Physical therapy – Once you have regained movement and sensation in your lower extremities, your physical therapist will assist you in standing and walking, if appropriate. The sooner you move and walk after surgery, the more successful your recovery.

Pain management – Your physicians and nurses will do everything possible to relieve your pain and discomfort. You will receive pain medication through your IV after surgery and by mouth once you are recovering. Communication is an important part of helping us manage your pain, so be sure to share information about any pain you experience.

Recovering at home

Medications – Be sure to take your pain medications regularly and at least ½ hour prior to performing the prescribed physical therapy exercises.

Exercises/Physical therapy – Continue your hip exercises as instructed by your physical therapist three times every day. Get up and walk for five minutes every hour using your front-wheeled walker for support and safety. Continue to use your walker for five to seven days following surgery, or as needed. In addition, take two 5- to 10-minute walks each day.

Swelling – It is normal to have swelling around your hip and thigh and down to your foot and ankle. Swelling will gradually increase, peaking between days 4 and 7, and then gradually decrease. However, swelling may persist for three months or longer after surgery. The use of ice for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off or the use of a polarcare machine is highly recommended.

Incision care – Keep your incision clean and dry. Change your dressing one to two times per day as needed. You may shower two to three days after surgery. Avoid a tub bath for at least 6 weeks or until the incision is completely healed and closed.

Diet and rest – Eat a healthy diet to promote healing. You may experience decreased appetite after surgery. This is normal and will gradually resolve.

Life after joint replacement

Exercises and activity – Exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle are important part of health. In general, high impact exercises, such as running, jumping, heavy weightlifting or contact sports are not recommended. All other low impact activities such as swimming, cycling, walking, gardening and golf are encouraged.

Follow-up care – You will see your surgeon or physician assistant for a follow-up appointment at 3 and/or 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year after surgery. The 6-week appointment is essential for your ongoing recovery and best outcomes. In addition, we will call you periodically to see how you are doing.

Virtual visits with orthopedics

Select patients can see our providers online from their home or office by using our Virtual Visit platform. This service allows you a fast, secure and easy way to receive care from the healthcare team in a live virtual visit using your phone or computer. The benefits of choosing a virtual visit include no travel or parking, less waiting, significant time savings and the convenience of seeing your physician from wherever you choose. Learn more

Our nurse navigator is with you every step of the way

If you have questions about your experience, call our nurse navigator Kathryn Harada today. Kathryn brings a passion for helping patients learn about the process and educating them on what to expect before, during and after surgery. To speak with Kathryn about your situation, call (805) 955-6233 or fill out the form below.


Kathryn Harada, BSN, BA, RN, PHN, CNOR

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