What are the Best Hip Replacement Precautions?

K. Gierok
K. Gierok
An X-ray of the hips.
An X-ray of the hips.

To ensure the best results during recovery, a number of hip replacement precautions must be taken. In the early days after surgery, it is necessary to limit bending at the hip and waist; avoiding climbing stairs as much as possible; and sit, stand, and lie down without crossing the legs. Recipients of hip replacements also should avoid excessive physical activity or contact sports. Some physical activity is needed to aid in the recovery of this procedure, but patients should be careful. As healing progresses, the patient should incorporate more activity into his or her routine, eventually returning to usual levels of activity, although it will be necessary to learn to use the new joint correctly.

An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.
An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.

Hip replacement precautions include the avoidance of bending past 90 degrees following surgery. Patients are encouraged not only to avoid bending their hips, but also to avoid bending at the waist. As these limitations can make daily activities quite difficult, patients are often given tools which can be used for dressing and cleaning. These tools might consist of shoehorns with extra-long handles, elevated seats for the toilet, and many others. Patients who receive hip replacements are often encouraged to undergo physical or occupation therapy treatment in order to learn how to perform their daily living activities without excessive amounts of bending.

Climbing stairs should be avoided if possible for several weeks after hip replacement. This is not only due to the excessive amount of bending placed on the hip, but also because of potential weakness and falls. As the body heals, however, the patient can climb or descend stairs as long as the proper techniques are followed. It is important for the patient to work with a physiotherapist to learn to do this and other activities safely.

Another one of the hip replacement precautions is for patients to avoid crossing their legs. While sitting, individuals are usually instructed to place their feet flat on the floor and around 4 inches (10 cm) apart. Those who have undergone this procedure must also avoid crossing their feet while standing or lying on their back. In many cases, patients are encouraged to sleep with a soft pillow between their feet avoid accidentally crossing them.

Walking has proven effective in recovery after hip replacement, but too much walking can result in excessive fatigue, soreness, and potential falls. Typically, patients are encouraged to start with walking for only five minutes at a time. If they can easily perform this amount of activity, they can increase their daily walking by ten percent each day. After a few months, most patients are able to resume their previous amount of daily activity; contact sports are discouraged, however.

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Discussion Comments


People should not limit their walking artificially. Patients very in individual capacity but some are very fit and may walk moderate distances. Stair climbing is perfectly safe provided a physio has instructed the patient and is happy with the technique. Normal function should be encouraged within the limits of bending the hip over 90 degrees and crossing the legs.

Regards, Jonathan

HPC Registered Physiotherapist

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    • An X-ray of the hips.
      By: Allen Penton
      An X-ray of the hips.
    • An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.
      An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a replacement hip.