Wednesday 19 October 2022

Total Hip Replacement - One Year On

Last December I wrote about the first six weeks following my hip replacement surgery (post here). At the time I was told complete recovery from the procedure would take about a year. Here I am, almost one year on, and I have reached that milestone, slightly ahead of schedule. So what has the journey been like?

On the whole, the last year has been plain sailing. I followed the rehab advice to the letter: I stuck rigidly to the don'ts, such as don't cross your legs or bend past 90 degrees; and the do's, mainly the tedious gentle daily exercise routine. Those rules become a way of life for the first 6-8 weeks. After that your surgeon is likely to discharge you and lift most movement restrictions.

I went the extra mile after getting the surgeon's all clear, joining a gym and continuing with regular exercise. Rehab was all down to me from this point on. I chose light weights and static bike/cross trainer, a mix of resistance training and cardio unlikely to aggrevate things.

Given the meticulous planning and adherence to that plan, you might expect a much quicker recovery turnaround than 12 months. But hip replacement is major surgery. Plus, a return to health is a gradual process - little wins happen all the time.

After six months I felt recovered from the surgery itself - the scar had healed and my range of movement was good. But I wasn't fit. I was lacking muscle strength and stamina: your whole body can suffer even when only one joint is affected by arthritis. The body adapts when one part of it isn't working properly: another part steps in and takes the strain. The longer that goes on, the longer everything takes to recover. My good left hip (it's a relative term, I have moderate OA in that joint) started to complain months before the surgery and was still triggering significant pain months after it. It's really only in the last eight weeks that I've been pain free in that hip while walking any reasonable distance, such as a 20 minute stroll into town. Joint pain in the replaced hip disappeared immediately after surgery, as you would expect.

Though, it is funny how quick the mind is to forget painful events. I can only recall some of the more difficult episodes of the past year, such as having daily migraines for two weeks after surgery, because I kept a diary. These were likely due to my history of migraine and the cocktail of pain relief drugs I had to take.

Those uncomfortable diary memories aside, I am incredibly pleased with my recovery. The new hip feels a little different and doesn't quite have the same range of motion as a natural one. But as my surgeon reminded me at the six week follow-up, I'm moving better than I have in years and I'm no longer in pain!  

Lead pic: Alpha Stock 

Hip prosthetist: Science Museum
Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
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