Last year, at age 47, I had double total hip replacements. I had suffered for a long time, until I got to the point where I could barely walk. The chronic pain was unbearable.
I finally got over the fact that I needed to see a doctor about what I thought was an “old person’s problem.” Once I did, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis…it was so bad, I was grinding both hips, bone-on-bone. My surgeon was shocked to see how bad off I was, and wanted to send me home with a walker to use before surgery. I was stubborn, so instead I insisted on having surgery as soon as possible.
My Experience with Anterior Hip Replacement Surgery
I ended up having anterior hip replacement surgery on my right hip, which is also referred to as total hip replacement surgery. It’s done via the anterior approach, which means the surgeon goes in at the front of your hip, as opposed to the posterior approach (basically cutting into your buttocks).
Anterior is a more advanced surgery, but it’s also much easier in terms of recovery, especially when it comes to physical therapy. With anterior surgery, you’re also less likely to dislocate your hip via therapy exercise. The amazing thing is that when you wake up from surgery, your bone pain will be gone. And yes, you will be forced to walk from the gurney to a bed (with the help of a walker), and yes that is terrifying, but you can do it!
Do Your Physical Therapy
When you get up the next morning, you’ll do a physical therapy session in the hospital to teach you how to get up out of a chair, in and out of a car, how to go up and down stairs, etc. Then, you should start out-patient physical therapy immediately.
I did it three days a week, and credit my therapists (and my own hard work) for my quick recovery. In fact, my recovery moved so quickly that the surgeon decided to do the second hip surgery two months to the day from the first one… much sooner than anticipated.
What You Need for Your Recovery
As for therapy aids, I borrowed a walker my mom used when she had back surgery, which I brought to the hospital. I only needed to use the walker for three or four days post-surgery. I also bought a cane from the drugstore, which I used for a longer period of time post-op, but no more than two to three weeks.
Here are six items I bought, which I found to be invaluable:
1. Raised Toilet Seat
This raised toilet seat (find it here) was very useful! And it’s easy to install. You basically lift up both the toilet seat and lid, and place this on the ceramic bowl, and it stays there.
2. Rigid Leg Lifter
This leg lifter (find it here) was a MUST for when I got home…as it helped me lift my leg into bed.
3. Combination Dressing Stick/Shoehorn
I used this stick/shoehorn (find it here) every day to help with shoes. It was also helpful for pulling on underwear and pants.
4. Grip ‘n Grab Reach Tool
This reach tool (find it here) was great for picking up things off the floor.
5. Walker Glides
These glides (find them here) are much better than putting tennis balls on the bottom of your walker, as the tennis balls easily disintegrate on streets and concrete sidewalks when you leave your house for physical therapy! (Plus my dog was taunted by the balls on my walker — he kept wanting to play!)
6. Stretch Out Strap with Exercise Booklet
This stretch out strap (find it here) Helpful with physical therapy at home.
Yes, hip replacement surgery felt pretty daunting at first. But having the right equipment (and the right attitude) certainly helps. And if you have questions, ask your doctor!