HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY: Hello, Am booked for a hip... - NRAS

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HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY

JGBH profile image
JGBH
43 Replies

Hello,

Am booked for a hip replacement operation on 1st February. I had 2 knee replacement operations in 2017 and 2018.

Although a hip replacement is supposed to be somewhat less painful and easier to recover from, I am dreading it for the simple reasons I have severe rheumatoid arthritis - so stopping the biologic injections (Tocilizumab) on 23rd February and not restarting them 2 weeks post surgery, as long as the wound is dry, I know from experience my RA will flare up with a vengeance and the pain levels get quite unbearable.

To add to this I have osteoporosis and a compressed fracture of the L1 vertebrae (lumbar spine) which makes it difficult to walk or lift, stand up, etc. and is rather painful. Because of the RA my hands, fingers and wrists are swollen and, yes, painful too and I can hardly use them. My shoulders are also painful… My “good” hip is painful and will need to be replaced also . It’s a nightmare, or it feels like it. In fact a total body replacement would be the best solution! Sorry about the repetitive use of adjective ‘painful’….

So, I am just wondering how I will be able to cope while recovering. I live alone - family living in the South East and London - and can’t take a few weeks off work to look after me, so I shall be going into a care home for 6 weeks of respite. I hope I will be able to look after myself in my home after 6 weeks. It’s a little scary when living alone and far away from family.

i would appreciate hearing from your experiences of recovering from hip replacement, especially from people who have (severe) rheumatoid arthritis and struggle the way I do. I know I am not alone living with such problems.

Any advice would be very welcome:

- did you find it difficult walking, sitting down and getting up? Going upstairs unaided? Getting in and out of bed?

- do you have any tips?

- did you use cool/hot packs to relieve the pain?

- when were you able to take a shower alone?

- did you really manage alone?

- how many weeks did it take for you to feel less pain and before you could put pants, trousers and socks on?

- what pain killers were you prescribed? Were you prescribed opioids for a short period of time?

- when were you able to drive again?

- when were you able to cook a meal from scratch for yourself, how many weeks post operation?

I know we’re all different but I look forward to hearing from your experiences and tips.

Of course, I feel nervous…

Thank you for reading this post and perhaps letting me know how you got on post operation and how you were feeling at various stages of recovery.

43 Replies
deniseinmilden profile image
deniseinmilden

Hello darling girl!

I must get some Zzzs but I have to just say that last year my 83 year old aunt, who has severe osteoporosis and is crippled with osteoarthritis (but not RA, I grant you) had her hip replaced after breaking it when she fell over on the bus (so much more trauma than elective surgery) and she came out of hospital after 5 days and looked after herself, on her own, at home. I made sure she got upstairs to bed OK the first night and either I or her neighbour made sure we were about when she came down the next morning, but other than that she was fine. I helped her a bit more with things to start with while she was still using a frame but only a few days a week - not every day. She didn't have any other carers either.

OK she's stubborn, but nowhere near as sensible and practical as you!

She had a physio come in once a week for 6 weeks to monitor her progress but was usually doing more than scheduled anyway.

The main thing is to do your exercises and you will recover quickly.

I hope you sleep now rather than worrying!

Night night! x

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to deniseinmilden

Hi Denise,

Well your elderly aunt must be made of Teflon! How dreadful for her and pleased she recovered so well and quickly. Luckily you and her good neighbour could keep an eye on her, that’s most helpful., especially at her age. Good on her though.

However not having RA is ‘helpful’… if I may say so.

Must get some zzz too. Night x

Bella59 profile image
Bella59

Hi, I have had both hips replaced in last 15months.I had both knees replaced 11 years ago.I definately found hip ops far easier to recover from.I am lucky that i have a good husband who supports me.I also have RA and had to stop meds.Can you bulk cook before op and freeze meals.Do you not have any aids to assist you walking?I have shower chair to help me shower.I have a stairlift.Maybe you should get in touch with Occupational therapist to assess your needs.I used my dressing gown belt under my foot to lift my leg up onto my bed. Recovery will vary but do exercises shown to you.It is good that you will be receiving care for six weeks after.Good Luck.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Bella59

Hi Bella, thank you for replying to my post.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you have a good support to help you. It’s a different situation when one lives alone. I’d rather come back home…

Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately I am in much paid 24/7 and because of the compressed lumbar fracture plus painful hands I can’t stand up for too long and can’t chop lots of vegetables etc, as I used to, cooking in batches and freeze. I cannot perch on a stool while cooking either. So it’s most frustrating…

Again because of my painful hands, I cannot use my dressing gown belt to pull my operated leg up… not unwillingness but inability. It might sound rather odd but until I couldn’t use my hands I didn’t realise how useful they were! It’s like anything that is in good condition and working, we naturally take them for granted and it’s rather a shock when they can’t function.

I have 2 zimmerframes and 2 walking sticks, 1 upstairs and 1 downstairs. I have a chair in the walking shower room. Also raised toilet seats and am awaiting delivery of toilet frames.. How exciting! But it all helps. I still do not have a stairlift…. Am resisting this for as long as possible, going up and down - albeit with difficulty and carefully is a good form of cardiovascular exercise. I used to be very active, gardening, walking, tai chi… and can’t do much now.

Naturally I intend to do my exercises as I did for my knees. I have started doing them but had to stop because of pain… arrgh!

How long did it take you to recover, 3, 6 months? It took me ages to recover from my knee replacement operations and the pain was dreadful for a long time, mostly because my RA was totally uncontrollable. I used to inject Enbrel and this biologic worked for 14 years, giving me some kind of life back which I enjoyed tremendously but post second knee replacement this wonderful drug stopped working altogether. I have had 3 different biologic since then, 2 didn’t help and Tocilizumab helps marginally. My rheumatologist told me they’re running out of drugs for me… so hope Tocilizumab will work again post op. Are you on a biologic?

So, how are you now? Are you pain free and able to walk and do many things?

Take care.

aliplayspiano profile image
aliplayspiano in reply to JGBH

If it’s a little help, I too am on tocilizumab and a couple of years ago had to stop it for about 8 or 9 weeks due to having pneumonia. I was gutted as it was working really well and the nurse wasn’t sure if the consultant would let me go back on it. However he did and although it took a while to take effect again, it did take effect and work as before.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to aliplayspiano

Hi Ali and thanks for your input. Tocilizumab really lowers the immune system and we’re prone to getting more infections. Glad you recovered well from pneumonia. I will have to be off it for just over 3 weeks providing the wound is dry… so could be longer if I need antibiotics.

It took a very long time for this biologic to work and it hasn’t helped as much as a previous one (Enbrel = Etanercept), so am also taking hydroxychloroquine 200mg as well as I can’t tolerate methotrexate. Therefore I know it’s going to be tough post operation.

I do not lack grit, I have plenty of that as I am always in pain and am very restricted, losing my mobility and independence. When I am driven for hospital appointments the volunteer driver has to push me in a wheelchair as I can’t walk a longish distance. Also I can hardly use my hands so it’s difficult coping. Painful shoulders, elbows and hands prevent using crutches, so I use a zimmerframe on very bad days and a walking stick.

Luckily I can still drive locally on my better days, I have an automatic car. It’s a blessing so I can escape from the house and do some light shopping or go to my surgery or pharmacy.

Bella59 profile image
Bella59 in reply to JGBH

Hi i can walk around my house but still use elbow crutches when outside.My hips are both good now it is my knees constantly swollen that hold me back.I am still on predni solone 6mgs reducing slowly for polymyalgia.I am on my 11th med for RA been on 4 dmards a few bioligicals.At present i take Filgotinib 20mg it is a Jak inhibitor.This med has helped my hands and wrists.I still have sore toes,ankles is more oesteoarthritis.I think a Rutland trolley would benefit you,i got one from OT.Every hip is different and recovery will vary.I am glad i got both hips done.I found hips a lot easier to recover from my knees took much longer and i was in more pain after.I wish you well try not to worry so much.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Bella59

pleased both your hips are painless now. What a shame about your knees…. Perhaps the hip operations put some pressure on your operated knees? It does not take much to unsettle the body parts with RA! Do hope the swelling will disappear soon. No doubt you use cool packs and raise your legs. You know the routine.

What a great suggestion about the Rutland trolley! Not a single OT has even mentioned this so will definitely mention it. Indeed it would be useful.

Yes, it is said knees are more difficult and more painful to recover from than hips, it’s just the dreaded RA flare up that’s bothers me.

I had a Jak inhibitor, Baricitinib, but that didn’t help at all… had a lot of biologics, and Dmards. Cannot tolerance methotrexate in either form, pill or injection. Am on hydroxychloroquine and my rheumatologist wants to add Azathioprine, which I was given when I first was diagnosed with RA when I was in my late 30s, in combination with a few other drugs. Not sure I want to take this addition and told him I would think about it once I have recovered from my operation.

Thanks for your good wishes… Best wishes to you too.

Madmusiclover profile image
Madmusiclover

Just quickly; by 6 weeks you’ll be independent and driving. At 2 weeks you’ll be through the worst and starting to feel more positive. Expect a very painful first 24 hours. Had right hip replaced in 2019; left late October 2022. Staples come out at 10 days (not 2 weeks) so that’s when you can get back in RA drugs. Take all the painkillers they offer you that you can tolerate. Shoes and socks? I think about 2/3 weeks with help of my picker to pull them on/position them. It will be worth it.

gutter crutches ESSENTIAL. Good luck honey. Grit those teeth. See you on the other side. X

These are mine: simplymed.co.uk/category/mo...

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Madmusiclover

Hello and thank you for your reply and tips. It sounds like you had a speedy recovery. Thanks for the warning about the tough 24 hours… always best to be prepared because it helps. I remember post knee replacement operations… ouch! But it can’t be avoided.

Unlike for my knees I won’t have the dreadful staples this time but ‘soluble stitches’… so that’s a plus. My surgeon said I could restart taking my biologic 2 weeks post op as long as the wound is dry and I don’t need to take antibiotics.

Unfortunately I can’t use crutches because I have very painful shoulders, elbows and hands. As already mentioned I can barely used my hands. Anybody who can use their hands without too much pain are unaware of the limitations this brings… Might sound stupid but I didn’t realise this myself until it got to this point, very deformed hands and fingers. So that’s frustrating. For the same reason it is most difficult using a grabber, some days I can other days I can’t…. So often do not wear socks. It is not a lack of gritting my teeth… I do that often. So frustrating because I am very restricted in my mobility. I have had RA since I was in my late 30s, am 76 now. After having my second biologic which worked for 14 years (stopped working after my second knee operation in 2018) I regained some kind of life during which time i became very active again… never stopped, lots of gardening, digging, moving shrubs etc, long walks, doing tai chi etc. I rarely sat down. So it’s quite a shock now, Having a compression fracture in my lumbar spine doesn’t help and is most limiting too. As I said I need a complete body refit!

Madmusiclover profile image
Madmusiclover in reply to JGBH

bless you. Yes you are up against it. I wish you all the luck in the world. X

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Madmusiclover

Thank you…

lilyak profile image
lilyak

Can you talk to your surgeon, or a nurse, about your concerns? You are very worried, and if you are worried, that will likely lead to a worse outcome. You should not have to go through this stress and upset.

Surgeons differ in how long you need to be off your medications, and sometimes you can stay on your medications. It's all about risk/benefit. If the anxiety you are feeling about an RA flare, or RA pain, is worse than the infection risk while on biologics, it makes much more sense to stay on your biologic. And thereby not causing the RA flare that you fear/know will happen!

Please talk to your surgeon about this. She is probably unaware of the extent of your concerns, the severity of your RA and the pain that a flare will cause and how that will affect your recovery. Your worries are valid, please try to talk to her. Given you are on your own, preventing an RA flare and staying on your biologic, may make more sense than stopping your meds.

I have been through two significant surgeries while on a biologic. (tofacitinib and tocilizumab). Please talk to your surgeon, everyone should have an individualised care plan, based on their own individual risk profile. Wishing you the best with the surgery.

deniseinmilden profile image
deniseinmilden in reply to lilyak

Really good thinking! Lots to take from that for all sorts of situations. Thank you!

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to lilyak

Hello lilyak and thank you for replying and advice. I did speak to my surgeon when I saw him at the pre op assessment in December. He also could see the pain I was in and I did expressed my concerns. He actually asked his registrar to do a steroid injection into one of my shoulders, which gave me 2 weeks of respite, no pain for a week and limited pain the second week, back to Square one now!

However, many surgeons/doctors or people who don’t actually suffer from much pain have a true understanding of what such pain does to a person. They think they do : they see people in pain but don’t have the experience themselves , that’s the problem. When I told him I can’t use my hands (and he could see how deformed and swollen they were/are) to help push myself off a chair, bed… his reply was that he did a hip replacement on a man who only had one arm… Ok, one arm is limiting but if one can use this arm fully without pain and lack of strength then it’s possible. Clearly no real understanding, However he’s a good surgeon, I trust him and like him and I need this operation. So not easy. Lucky I can get it done during the NHS crisis. He thinks I must stop tocilizumab because the risk of infection is too great. However I had a smaller operation 2 years ago, release of a very badly trapped nerve in my left forearm/hand and the hand surgeon agreed I didn’t need to stop having the biologic, and it was fine but a quick recovery, not really painful at all.

Thanks for you wishes. Hope you’re keeping as well as possible.

sylvi profile image
sylvi

Sorry i can't help you, but i wish you well for your surgery darling. xxxx

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to sylvi

Many thanks sylvi! Very kind of you.

Mmrr profile image
Mmrr

Best wishes for your surgery.I live alone too, although not as immobile as you I have had a bad run recently with 2 hospital stays since December. Not having anyone even to make a cup of tea for you, or just ask how you are is difficult.

Stay in touch on the forum and do let us know how you get on ?

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Mmrr

Thank you… yes, not easy. Hope you’re keeping well.

llewelyn2405 profile image
llewelyn2405

hello lovely. I don’t have any advice for you I’m afraid but I read your post and just wanted to send you a hug 🤗. I hope it all goes really well for you and you have a speedy recovery.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to llewelyn2405

Thank you very much..

Maureengibson profile image
Maureengibson

I worked as a nurse in orthopaedics for over 30yrs. The recovery is much easier than knee replacements. I would suggest working on your exercises prior to surgery to give you a head start. Lil yak gives good advice re using gutter crutches, which are so much easier for those with RA. I would speak with your surgeon re your concerns, I’ve nursed a few patients who have been allowed to continue their biologic, so it’s worth asking. If you have a walk in shower and your wounds healed you can shower once your clips are out. If it’s over the bath it’s generally 6 weeks. Driving is also usually 6 weeks once you’ve seen your surgeon and he’s examined your new hip. The reason being although the wound heals quickly, the muscles underneath take up to 6 weeks to heal, but until then there is a greater risk of complications. I have nursed many many patients who’ve lived alone, including some with RA. Many say their RA settles down, possibly because the body is diverting its focus away from the RA to deal with what it initially sees as a foreign body.

I do feel you need to address your concerns with your team, as you are clearly very worried. That worry has the potential to impact your recovery. Take all analgesia offered, so that you are able to get the most out of your exercises. Having a glass half full attitude certainly will make recovery easier. You’re usually not allowed to sleep in your side for 6 weeks, so you may want to practice sleeping on your back. I wish you well, and I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself how well you do. Take care 🤗

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Maureengibson

Thank you for your input, especially because you have nursed many people recovering from orthopaedic surgery. it was Madmusiclover who recommended the gutter crutches… unfortunately I can’t use these, please read my reply to MML and also my reply to lilyak…saving myself time te say the same thing over and over as must get ready for an hospital appointment.

I really appreciate your advice though. The surgeon is adamant I must stop Tocilizumab for just over 3/weeks because the risk of infection is high. Had a minor op 2 years ago (release a badly trapped nerve in forearm and hand) and the hand surgeon agreed I could carry on the biologic injection. It wasn’t a painful recovery and was quick to heal. This time is different though, as you’re very aware.

As for sleeping on back it’s what I do all, the time, too painful sleeping on either side.

I have been doing exercises but had to stop because it caused extreme pain in my lumbar spine where I have a compression fracture (L1) for which nothing can be done, apparently. Feeling frustrated. I hope it will go well. Have confidence in the surgeon, he’s very good, and his team. Although I have genuine concerns I am a fighter… but it get tough at times. We all have to find ways of coping and this forum is wonderful in giving support and advice. Take care too. x

pegpowell profile image
pegpowell

I too live alone. Make sure all your needs are at hand level as you are not supposed to bend more than 90%.. no more than the bend you would be when sitting. The first three or four weeks You must not overdo it. Walking was the only exercise my surgeon recommended. I used a walker three Xs or more a. day in my friends cul de sac for the first almost three weeks. Reverted back to my cane after which I still use because of other issues. I had knee done in 2017 which needed many and different exercises. Hip quicker in healing but more delicate in the beginning.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to pegpowell

Hello peg Powell, Many thanks for replying and the good tips. Although it is important to do all the exercises and walking I have also read that getting plenty of rest was most important too. I remember post knee replacements how totally wiped out I felt and left asleep on my bed every afternoons for a few weeks, Best wishes.

greynot profile image
greynot

Had hip replacement last May (age 72)I'm 'only' on methotrexate (20 mg) for RA, and didn't have to stop it. I managed to avoid a flare.

Was 2 nights in hospital. I wasn't allowed out til the physios were satisfied I could do stairs safely with crutches.

Top tips...you will need something to support the operated leg for getting in and out of bed, and a 'leg lifter' is much easier to use than a dressing gown belt. They are cheap, and the usual places like complete care shop have them.

Assume you have easy reach (I kept one upstairs and one down)

I managed most clothing and footwear within days (I was 'bulllied' into putting on my own knickers and jog bottoms while still in hospital...they put a lot of emphasis on independence) but needed help with shoe on operated side for about 4 -5 weeks. I managed to work out using my Soxon for socks after a few days.

Initially take all the pain killers on offer. I mostly had oramorph initially and tapered down to strong codeine. I also had laxatives to counter the associated constipation, and managed to avoid that. I continued the gabapentin that I have anyway for neuro issues . Plenty of paracetamol. I had to stop Naproxen pre op.

Do all the physio!!!!

Long story short, I was driving again 6 weeks later (after ortho check up and permission). Now I am barely aware of having a new hip, except that it doesn't hurt. Still working on the physio to build up muscle strength (all sorts of issues have impacted on that as well as the arthritic hip).

Unfortunately the knee on the other side is in a bad state...yes, a body replacement would be good!

All the best with it, and let us know how you go on

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to greynot

Replying to greynot, Fruitandnutcase and Lewsdon: thank you so much for replying. However I now need to get ready for an hospital appointment so can’t reply individually. Time running out. I appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to greynot

Hello Greynot, Sorry I did not have time of thanking you this morning for your most useful tips. I will check about the leg lifter. How long did you use the leg lifter for? Unfortunately I cannot use crutches… Just a thought, if the leg lifter requires lifting and supporting with the hands then it won’t be of any use for me, unfortunately.

So it’s 8 months since you’ve had the surgery and you’re still in recovery mode… I do hope you will feel better soon. So perhaps the knee next? It’s so frustrating when one’s body falls apart… I will need the other hip to be replaced and am on the list for replacement of joints on 2 fingers of my right hand, but all fingers need replacements… Too depressing.

Thanks fir your kind wishes. Of course I’ll let you all know about my progress, perhaps not for a few weeks though. Take care.

greynot profile image
greynot in reply to JGBH

Hello again,Yes, the leg lifter does require use of hands. Basically you do need support for the operated leg for 2 -3 weeks, getting in and out of bed. I found when the nurses did it in hospital they never quite got it right, as you're responding to pain signals to control and support the leg (and obviously they don't feel your pain however good they are). I hope you can find a solution to this dilemma. It's short term though.

My surgeon said that you feel most of the benefit of the new hip in the first 3 months, and I agree with that. He also said it takes about a year to get max benefit. What I still don't have is enough strength in the leg. That's a mix of neurological issues due to back issues (it's endless, isn't it!) which had already compromised muscle strength, before the hip surgery. And the knee has slowed everything else down.

But continuing to do the physio is improving the strength...slowly!

I'm really pleased with the overall outcome of the hip replacement, and I so hope it works well for you.

I'm sending lots of good wishes and will be sending extra your way 'on the day'....

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to greynot

Hello again. Thank you for confirming my thoughts regarding the use of the leg lifter… have just checked the store you mentioned and could see it needed hands to make it work,,, so not for me unfortunately. Not sure how I’ll manage… does it ever stop? Another problem to find a solution to. Hope I can find a way. Perhaps using my other leg to support and push thé operated leg up… ? Will try and practice.

I have found that surgeons, nurses, don’t really understand the limitations and pain patients suffer, although they are great at doing their jobs. It’s probably due to the fact one needs to experience these situations to fully understand. Did you have back surgery to correct a spinal compression fracture ?

I have this added problem but the spinal surgeon told me he couldn’t do anything because it would cause more problems… so walking is difficult and painful so is standing up for long. It is very tiring walking or standing with this condition. Indeed it never stops! Depressing thought.

It’s great you’re progressing well with your recovery and that it soon will feel so much better. Thank you again for your kind words.

Fruitandnutcase profile image
Fruitandnutcase

Hi JGBH, my husband had a new hip about five years ago. Before it was done we bought one of those reclining chairs, his idea was to sleep on it but his physio was adamant that he lie flat on a bed to sleep and he had to sleep on his back for we think at least a month, it was good for daytime though. It was big and solid and high enough to be able to sit and stand fairly easily.

I also insisted on putting in a second banister so that he had one on either side of the stairs when it came to going up and down. I also bought a pair of crutches from Amazon so that he hat upstairs crutches and downstairs crutches which avoided him having to carry anything up or down with him.

We moved a single bed into a downstairs room for him, there is a shower room off it so he didn’t need to go up and downstairs for a couple of maybe even three weeks. The single bed was quite high so we didn’t need to have the height increased for him. Someone came out from somewhere - sent by occupational therapy to sort all that and provide a raised height toilet seat. All to do with the angle of your hip when you sit down.

We changed the towel rails in the downstairs shower room for proper solid handgrips that would support him if need be. We got rid of any rugs that were about. He was able to shower alone but our shower room is small.

I bought a box of ice packs from Amazon - the kind you twist to make them freeze.

One problem we did have was when the dressing came off our doctor’s surgery didn’t have the same type of dressings as the hospital were using and I can remember being terribly worried about that - I eventually got them from Amazon but we never got them as long as the ones that were put on in the hospital so it would be worth asking about that because his body kept rejecting the stitches and they would come to the surface and looked infected.

Eventually I took photographs for him to show the surgery nurse and he was given antibiotics, the second time it happened fortunately he got a better nurse to look at it and who took swabs to ensure he got the correct antibiotics. I found that very stressful - more than my patient did though.

He had opioids for a week or so and after that he didn’t need anything but he had anticoagulant injections that he did himself every day for about a month. He was told not to sit for too long so he got up and walked around regularly.

He had very little pain, he was in agony before he had the op - he’d been putting it off for so long because he was terrified. He says afterwards he was more stiff than sore.

The most difficult thing for us was getting his compression socks on and off, they were very tight. He had two pairs and we changed them every day. In the end I used to cream his legs before I changed the socks but it was difficult, I used to worry about pulling his leg off! He had a picker that he sometimes used and a strange contraption for putting on his socks which he never really used.

I bought him a couple of pairs of black track suit bottoms which were easy to put on and soft, he wore them and polo shirts but he could put pants on, he did that sitting down then stood to pull them up. He could dress himself when he was in hospital.

He was driving again after six weeks, in fact he went back to work after six weeks. He was an optometrist - as his consultant said ‘that’s not going to overtax you’. He had the op on 19th November and was back to work after New Year - he has just reminded me he cooked Christmas dinner for us all!

The really important thing is to do all of your physio exercises - I also signed my husband up to visit my Pilates teacher who is a physiotherapist for some extra work once the NHS physio had finished with him. I would try do as much exercise as you can before your op, the first physio commented that my husband must have been fairly fit.

I suppose he was in a way because he kept moving when he really wasn’t able to if you know what I mean, he was very determined that there was nothing wrong with him lol!

I’m sure that by the time you have been in a nursing home for six weeks you will be well on the way to looking after yourself. Dare I say it - I’m sure it will be less painful than having your knees done.

Good luck.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Fruitandnutcase

Hello Fruitandnutcase, Sorry I wasn’t able to thank you this morning as I had to get ready for a hospital appointment. Your suggestions are helpful. I have already explained on other posts what aids I have already to help me post surgery.

It sounds like your husband was rather fit and free of nasty RA… so he recovered well and pretty quickly. Not the case for me and many others, hence my apprehension. Hopefully 6 weeks at a care home will allow me to recover well and get enough rest before I return home. I would rather be home but not really advisable, unless there was someone with me for support and help with every day things. Take care,

Fruitandnutcase profile image
Fruitandnutcase in reply to JGBH

Husband also has osteoarthritis but not RA - Im sure your time in the convalescent home will give you a very good start. You will be looked after and fed and there will be someone there who can put on your compression socks, help with physio and you will have company.

Lewsdon profile image
Lewsdon

I too live on my own,when I had my hip and two knees replaced I loved in a first floor flat,so I had to go up and down them to get outside.Yes you can drive after 6 weeks,and thankfully !out of pain.I have RA,OA and spinal stenosis.,plus a Pacemaker...About food I bought ready made food,not ideal but served a purpose.You can get them in before you go into hospital,also have good delivered..Good luck and try.not to worry too muchx

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Lewsdon

Hello Lewsdon, I appreciate your replying to my post, thank you. It must have been rather difficult coping alone post surgery.

Ready made meals will help when I return home after my stay at a care home, although like you, I prefer home made meals cooked from scratch.

Do hope you’re keeping well. Thanks for your goo wishes. The kindness of people on this forum is so valuable. take care. x

Bailybiscuit profile image
Bailybiscuit

I had my left hip replaced in 2017. I can honestly say it wasn't that painful. I have an inflammatory arthritis and was between stopping Benepali and restarting methotrexate and Humoral. I was still on 10mg steroids at that time which the surgeon wasn't bothered about. My knees were bad and when they came round with the painkillers and told me I could have Paracetamol for my hip pain, I told her I always took Cocodamol for my knees, I had it in my drawer. I was told I wasn't allowed to take it in there but I could take Paracetamol and half an hour later some Codeine. I think I was in hospital 3 days. My husband took a week off to help look after me but I seemed to progress a bit day by day. I used 2 crutches and I did my exercises each day. I think you are wise to be in a care home for a time so you can concentrate on your exercises and how to move carefully so as to not dislocate your hip. I did sleep on a bed downstairs for a while but I can't remember how long for. I don't drive but by 6 weeks I think I would have been allowed to. My staples were taken out by a nurse at the Gaps and I went to physio at hospital but I can't remember when I started going. I hope everything goes well for you.

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to Bailybiscuit

Hello and thank you for getting in touch with me. I understand hip replacement surgery is less painful that knee replacement surgery. The pain post knee surgery was horrendous because my RA, difficult to control, flared up and it took a very long time before I felt freer of pain. Naturally I am anxious about the same thing happening again , because it will. I suffer with a great deal of pain every day and night, it’s not just in passing. That is what concerns me most. Can barely use my hands, so it’s most frustrating and I wonder how I’ll be able to get up from the bed or a chair without the use of my hands and relying on the other hip which is painful too and needs replacement also. I can’t use crutches (painful shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands), so zimmerframe and walking stick. I simply could never manage alone at home but it has been most difficult funding a place in a care home.

I was told they wouldn’t use staples but dissolvable stitches so at least I will be spared the hard removal of metal staples, which I had for my knees. I too am on steroids, 5 mg/day and I have to take this for life. I also have hydroxychloroquine which I won’t have to stop taking before the surgery. Of course I will do my exercises and walk with the help of the zimmerframe. Do hope you’re keeping well.

Bailybiscuit profile image
Bailybiscuit

I didn't realise you won't be able to use crutches but if you think about it lot's of elderly people break their hips and have them replaced and I am sure they also can't use crutches. I found they really affected my shoulders as I did suffer with one of them anyway. The physiotherapist should instruct you as how to get up and down from a chair or from your bed. My staples were actually a sort of plastic or nylon type and apart from the first one came out easily and painlessly. Hopefully the care home staff will help you all they can. At least you won't have to try and cook for yourself while there. Good luck

StormySeas profile image
StormySeas

Hi there JGBH

I had a total R Hip Replacement just before Christmas

I think you're very wise going into a care home for the first few weeks, just to take some of the stress out of it.

In my experience you do recover very quickly, but it will be nice to have some help managing, particularly in the first few days when it can all be a bit scary.

I was able to move around OK right from the beginning, but I was able to use crutches, which at the moment I can manage. There was a short period in the past when my wrists and shoulders were too painful to use crutches, so I understand your concerns over this.

You'll find you need to shuffle yourself to the edge of your bed to get up using a combination of good leg, and arms so if you can't put any pressure on your hands at all you might need some help to start with.

Going upstairs was fine (one legged) but again, I used a crutch and pulled myself up on the handrail. Ditto sitting down on the loo - I still use both hands to support myself.

I had a shower alone after a month. before that just flannel washes.

Still can't put socks on or do shoes up. I don't have any aids, so I recommend you get a sock aid and maybe a long handled grabber. You might ask on Freecycle if anyone has some spare.

I had a combination of spinal anaesthetic and heavy sedation (which was excellent) and was totally pain-free in hospital due to Oxycotin and paracetamol. The former continued at home for about 3-4 days, now I'm just on the latter and codeine Sulphate.

I couldn't really manage a whole meal from scratch for a week or two - mainly because of the long period standing up. I wasn't comfy on a perching stool at all. If I'd made simpler meals I probably could have managed after about a week.

I still can't drive - it takes 6 weeks.

My main tips are to get organised with a bag with a strap you can put across your body or a rucksac to carry around all the effects you need. To make sure the hospital give you a loo riser if you think you need one for when you go home. Also elephant feet if you think you'll need them for your chairs. I think you have to tell them you need these things. I wasn't offered them.

I'd also request laxatives at the pre-op and make sure they're written into your notes so you receive them from admission. The pain killers REALLY bung you up and the last thing you want to contend with is constipation as well.

I went home the day after the op. I was almost discharged same day as I managed the stairs and walking. In retrospect I was glad I stayed for the first night.

It's a big op, and recovery does take a good six weeks. I was very up and down, and still am, to some extent. Euphoric during the first few days as I seemed to be doing very well, then down in the dumps when the pain resumed and I thought I'd overdone it.

I think the main thing to remeber is that it might not feel like it but every day you'll be getting better and your previous strength will return. Keep rotating your ankles, and do the few simple bed exercises they give you as each time you do them is an investment in your recovery.

My RA is not too bad at the moment, so I feel lucky in that respect. I hope you don't flare badly - and that the pain relief they give you deals with that too.

Main thing is to let them know your specific concerns at the pre-op appt so they're written down in your notes. And if they don't take on board your RA issues and your current limitations and pain - drill it in to them so they do. I'm sure they'll work out a plan for you to recover in a way that works for you.

I hope your experience in hospital is as positive as mine was - they were really fantastic, and lovely too. Ask away if you have any more questions - and don't feel the need to reply to me specifically as I know you're up against it time wise.

Wishing you the very best of luck with it all XXXX

JGBH profile image
JGBH

Hello StormySeas and many thanks for your comprehensive suggestions and sharing your experience. Most helpful. The perfect guidebook of « How to prepare, for, undergo and recover from hip replacement surgery »! It’s the practical tips that make it so helpful and help in calming the apprehension down a little bit.

It sounds like you made a quick preliminary recovery directly post surgery. Only one day in hospital… my goodness. Do you have support at home?

The problems are my useless hands.. shoulders and painful ‘good hip’ I will need to rely on. I have explained all this but they don’t quite take it in. I think I will phone the surgeon’s secretary to reiterate my limitations. Do hope I’ll find a way to cope without dislocating my hip. This is mainly why I worry plus the huge RA flare up.

I would not be able to carry a rucksack on my back… painful neck and back plus difficulty in moving my arms so… but that was a sensible tip.

From past experience, when I had knee replacement surgery (both knees, 6 months apart) I know I simply couldn’t cope alone so decided to go into a care home. The RA will flare up, just as it did before, it flares up anyway… so dreading it. However I need this operation. Until recently I couldn’t find a room in a care home close to where I live but luckily the place I went to post operations phoned me a few days ago saying a room has become available.. went to see it today and I have taken it. So what a relief as I didn’t want to go miles from my home… and I already know the carers., plus it will be easier for family members to come and visit me as they already know the place. They live in London and the South East and I live in the Midlands.

The surgeon and his team, the nurses are all lovely and they all work very hard. I was surprised to receive a letter in December to say I was booked for 1st February when I only saw the surgeon in August. Had enhanced recovery clas on 21/12/22 and pre op assessment on 22/12/22…

I will have a spinal anaesthetic plus sedation like you, had this too for both my knee operations. Indeed i was most constipated… no doubt this will happen again..

I already have raised toilet seats (1 upstairs and 1 downstairs, and am expecting toilet frames to be delivered tomorrow. Also have 2 zimmerframes and walking sticks.

I have a grabber but often I can’t use it because of my swollen painful deformed fingers. Will buy a different grabber … also a long handed shoe horn and sock aid but again might not be able to use the sock aid. I often can’t wear socks… but while at the care home they will put my socks on. May I ask… how did you manage putting knickers on since one isn’t allowed to bend down.. perhaps it’s the time to go knicker less!

Did you have staples or soluble stitches? Had big staples for my knees… so it should be better this time because I shall have soluble stitches. Was your surgery done at the front of thigh, or side or back? I asked the surgeon and it’s from the back! That’s how he was trained. Was a bit disappointed because when opened at the front it is less painful to recover (less big muscles to cut through so quicker to heal) and less prone to infections. That’s how they tend to do it on the continent and Australia and Canada too, I believe.

I hope you keep on making good progress. Have you used cool bags to help with the pain? I did that with both my knees.

I’ll let all the lovely people who have replied to my post know how I get on… might be quite for a few days post operation.

Thank you once more. All the best xxx

StormySeas profile image
StormySeas in reply to JGBH

Hello again, and sorry for slow reply.

Wishing you luck on the 1st - I hope it all goes well for you and that you have been successful in alerting the team to the extra hurdles you'll have to deal with.

I know this is late, but here are the answers to some of the questions you asked...

Yes, I do have a partner at home but I'm sure you'll be receiving all the help you'll need at the care home.

It's coming up to 6 weeks now and I am massively better. That's definitely something to remember - it's a big operation with a long recovery period, but each day you do get better and stronger. Almost imperceptibly, but suddenly you'll see that you can do lots more than the previous week. Do not lose heart!

Re knickers - yes I can get them on now. Socks too, but one side is still a struggle. I use long handled frying pan tongs. Not great tbh!

Soluble stitches - done from the three-quarter back, if yoiu get what I mean. Scar is still pretty tender, but I can now lie directly on it in bed, which is a big improvement.

I did use a cool bag a few time a day - for 10 mins after periods of exercise. I wish I'd started this earlier than I did as am sure it helped. By 'exercise' I mean whatever whatever you can do. If you can move around after 30-40 mins, that's good. Wriggle feet, flex legs etc. It all helps - in fact I think it's the key to recovery. Getting up to walk say, three times a day in the beginning, if you can. Try not to worry about the risk of dislocation - I agree it's scary, but being as mobile as you can - even in the smallest way, is very positive, for healing, and everything else.

Wishing you all the very best

XXXXXX

JGBH profile image
JGBH in reply to StormySeas

Hello StormySeas, Very thoughtful of you to contact me again and thanks for the tips and encouragement, I am sending you a PM. xx

basketcase54 profile image
basketcase54

I had hip surgery 2 years ago I was having the enablement team in twice a day but sacked them off after 2 days but even though I got 3 blood clots I was fine was a bit freaked out at size of scar but best thing I had done out of all my many operations just make sure u keep moving as much as possible xx

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