What Is Normal Pain After Hip Replacement Surgery?

What Is Normal Pain After Hip Replacement Surgery?

Hip pain can interfere with your daily life. You might need hip replacement surgery if you have difficulty walking, standing, or driving. This problem is common around the world. Annually, surgeons perform over 300,000 hip replacement operations in the US alone.

Hip replacement surgery aims to replace damaged components of your hips with suitable ones. These replacements may include ceramic, metal, or plastic materials. Undergoing this procedure will improve your mobility and function and minimize discomfort.

Unfortunately, after the surgery, you may still feel pain. While pain is expected after the operation, not everything is normal. This article discusses types of pain after hip replacement surgery and how to alleviate them.

What Are The Types Of Pain After Hip Replacement Surgery?

This section discusses normal and abnormal pain after hip replacement surgery. Following your doctor’s instructions can help you manage normal pain. The pain also subsides within a few weeks or months.

On the other hand, if you experience abnormal pain, seek immediate medical attention. This type of pain usually results from a complication.

Surgical Pain

During your surgery, your physical therapist will make an incision through your skin and muscles to access your hip joint. This incision site can then result in bruising, swelling, and pain. Fortunately, this pain lasts a few weeks. Sometimes, you may not even experience the pain once your doctor removes the stitches or staples. 

You can manage surgical pain with medications and home remedies like cold therapy. Your doctor will also give you instructions on wound care and infection prevention.

If you experience surgical pain, avoid soaking the wound in water. Also, do not apply lotions or ointments to the wound until it has healed completely.

Muscle Pain

The muscles around your hip joint get strained during surgery. Therefore, you can expect muscle pain after your procedure. Moving your hip can often make this discomfort worse. 

Muscle pain can last a few months until your muscles are fully healed. You can manage the pain by using pain relievers and following your physical therapy program religiously. Your physical therapist will develop a suitable treatment plan that addresses your pain without straining your muscles.

Nerve Pain

The nerves around your hip joint may get compressed or irritated during surgery. Nerve pain is a sharp, tingling, and shooting pain. This pain radiates; you may feel it in your leg or foot. 

You can manage nerve pain with heat and cold therapy, pain medication, and by elevating your hips. Your physical therapist will also create a treatment program to stimulate and regenerate your nerves.

Although nerve pain is expected, avoid activities that may cause further irritation or nerve damage. For instance, avoid putting too much pressure or weight on the hip until it is fully healed.

Joint Pain

Your surgeon will replace your hip joint during the surgery. The artificial parts are attached to your bone, and you may feel pain in the new joint. Joint pain can be dull or throbbing, depending on stress and movement. You may feel joint pain until the new hip joint is fully integrated.

Your physical therapist will develop a program to help you adjust to the new joint. These exercises can improve the alignment of your joint and make it more stable. 

You should also aim to avoid strenuous activities like running, jumping, or lifting heavy objects. These activities may cause excessive damage your hip joint and cause wear and tear.

Dislocation

If your new joint pops out of its socket, then, you have a dislocation. This condition can deform your leg and cause severe pain and swelling. Moving your hips excessively after your surgery can cause a dislocation.

You can avoid this problem by wearing a brace and not crossing your legs. You should also follow your doctor’s post-surgery advice. 

You should contact your doctor immediately if you notice signs of a dislocation. You most likely have a dislocation if you experience numbness or weakness in your foot. In addition, if your hip looks deformed or you feel pain when standing, you may have a dislocation.

Infection

An infection also causes pain after your hip replacement operation. This pain is not normal. It occurs because harmful bacteria must have entered your wound.

You should seek immediate medical help if you experience an infection. Signs of an infection include inflammation, swelling, and redness. You may also experience fever and chills. 

Infections can damage your new hip joint and become life-threatening. You can reduce your risk of infections after your surgery by using your prescribed drugs. You should also keep your wound clean and dry and avoid contact with sick people.

Loose Joint

Pain after hip replacement surgery may also result from loose or unstable joints. If you have a loose joint, you will experience chronic pain and find it difficult to walk or carry out any other activities. 

Pain from a loose joint is abnormal, and you may experience it years after your surgery. You can prevent this problem by following your doctor’s advice on maintaining your joints. 

Following your physical therapy program can also help you. You should also avoid activities that may stress your hip joints. It is best to limit running, jumping, and lifting heavy objects.

How To Manage Pain After Hip Replacement Surgery

Pain after hip replacement surgery is normal. But it can affect your recovery and daily life. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage this pain, including;

Elevate and Compress

After your surgery, elevate your hips and apply compression to reduce pain and swelling. You can place your leg on a pillow or cushion when elevating your hips. Ensure you raise your hips above your heart level for the best results.

Compression can help reduce swelling. You can also use a compression garment to wrap your hip. When applying compression, do not wrap your hips too tightly. If you feel extra pain after using the compression garment, it is too tight.

Use Prescribed Pain-Relief Medications

Your doctor will prescribe pain relief medications to help you manage pain after your surgery. Ensure you use these drugs as directed by your doctor. If you still feel pain even after these drugs, inform your doctor immediately.

Ice Therapy

Ice therapy can help reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain after surgery. Following your physical therapist’s advice on using this technique is best. 

Wrap an ice pack in a towel and place it over your hip for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not apply the ice to your skin directly to avoid damaging your skin. You can try ice therapy several times a day.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy after a hip replacement surgery can help improve your mobility and range of motion and restore strength. This program typically consists of tailored treatment plans to suit your condition and aid your recovery. 

Your physical therapist at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy will gradually increase the intensity of your exercises as you progress week by week in your healing. It is essential to follow your physical therapist’s instructions. You should also communicate your pain level, difficulties, and achievements.

Some exercises your physical therapist will prescribe will be easy to do at home. They may include gentle stretches to improve circulation, reduce stiffness, and tone your muscles. It is best to do these exercises in the proper form. Improper form and overexertion can cause further pain or damage to your hip.

Benefits of Physical Therapy After Hip Replacement Surgery

Physical therapy after your hip replacement can speed up your recovery and help you get used to your new joint. Your physical therapist will tailor a treatment plan for your condition and pain thresholds. 

Other benefits of physical therapy after a hip replacement procedure include;

Improved Mobility

Physical therapy Fort Worth uses massage therapy and gentle stretches to help prevent stiffness. The treatment also improves your flexibility and makes your joints more stable.

Scar Tissue Reduction

During your surgery, your doctor will make tiny cuts. These incision sites can develop scar tissue as they heal. The scar tissue is stiff and will make moving your leg difficult.

Physical therapy techniques like exercises, stretches, and massage can reduce scar tissue. Your physical therapist will also use modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation to improve blood circulation. 

Conclusion

Hip replacement surgery is essential to restore the function and mobility of your hip joint. However, this surgery can come with pain. Surgical, muscle, nerve, and joint pain are all expected. This type of pain usually resolves within a few weeks to a few months. Also, you can speed up your recovery by following your doctor’s advice.

On the other hand, pain resulting from infection, dislocation, fracture, or loose joints is abnormal. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these.

This article has explored normal and abnormal pain after hip surgery. We have also discussed how physical therapy can help with your recovery. You can visit your physical therapist at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy, Bedford, TX, for a tailored treatment plan after surgery.