Total Hip Replacement Recovery Guide

Hip Replacement Recovery Tips to maximize healing

Following your total hip replacement, it is important to adhere to the instructions that your physical therapist, surgeon or healthcare provider has given you as part of your discharge information.

Many patients wish to maximize the healing process as much as possible and although there is no universally accepted way to increase the speed of your recovery, there are a number of steps that you can take in order to ensure that your recovery is uneventful and as planned.

It is important to always adhere to the instructions that your surgeon or healthcare provider has given you with regards to the dressings or bandages over your hip replacement incision. Removal of your hip replacement dressings too early can expose the surgical incision to the outside environment before it has fully healed and this puts you at risk of a surgical infection which could potentially progress to a periprosthetic joint injection and this must be avoided at all costs. As such, do not remove any dressings unless you have been instructed to do so and do not remove them before you have been instructed to do so.

Total Hip Replacement on X-ray in frog legged lateral view.

Total Hip Replacement on X-ray in frog legged lateral view.

We encourage you to ambulate regularly. If this requires the use of a gait aid then this is perfectly acceptable and should not be avoided. Although there is no limit that your surgeon or healthcare provider will place on the amount that you can ambulate, you will find that your hip and general fatigue will limit you in the early postoperative period and this is normal.

You will also have performed some recovery exercises with your physical therapist after the surgery and it is important to comply with your postoperative rehabilitation instructions as closely as possible. This will include doing some home exercises and performing these on a daily basis will increase the speed of your recovery and decrease the soreness in the hip early on.

Broached proximal modular femoral component

Distal femoral component (modular)

The images above show a modular femoral component used in revision hip replacement. The modular structure allows for intraoperative adjustment of the anteversion and firm fixation in the femoral canal. The fully porous coated surface allows for bone ingrowth and a long stem ensures a stable fixation in the femoral canal.

Pain after Total Hip Replacement

Most patients agree that their postoperative pain is more manageable after a total hip replacement than compared to a total knee replacement. With that being said, you should expect some soreness in your hip for up to 2 to 3 weeks following the surgery and that this should have dissipated almost completely by 6 weeks following the surgery. You will be prescribed a pain medication regimen when you leave the hospital and these pain medications are designed to help control your pain in the postoperative period, but you should aim to wean off these within 2 to 3 weeks of the surgery if not sooner.

Hip Replacement Recovery Timeline

Following your hip replacement surgery, you will be bought to the recovery room and you will recover from the surgery in the immediate postoperative period for an hour or so there. Depending on the type of anesthetic that you have for your hip replacement, you may still be numb from the waist down if you had a spinal anesthetic; however, if you have had a general anesthetic, as you wake up you will notice that you will have no numbness and you may notice that your hip is sore from that point onwards.

You will have a dressing or bandages on or around the hip and it is important not to touch these or try to remove them.

You will then be taken to a ward where you will begin your postoperative pain medication regimen and during your hospital stay, you will have a physical therapist, nurses and other healthcare professionals help you ambulate, usually with a gait aid such as a rollator walker and the frame or cane.

After a short hospital stay (how long will depend on the type of hip replacement that you have had as well as the surgical approach), you will be discharged home when it is appropriate to do so. You will take home similar postoperative pain medications as you have been taking in the hospital as well as some discharge instructions for caring for your surgical dressing as well as exercises to continue doing at home.

You should notice that your pain subsides within 2 to 3 weeks of the surgery if not sooner and as such you should aim to be weaning off the narcotic analgesic pain medications as you can tolerate.

About 6 weeks after the surgery, you should have recovered most of the strength back in your hip and the pain should be significantly diminished. This will continue to diminish up until 3 months and your strength will also increase up until around 6 months after the surgery. This is usually the point of which you are considered to be at your baseline, although this will depend on if you experienced complications after the surgery or not.

Most patients from 6 months almost find that they are fully recovered from the hip replacement and most patients also feel that they are able to have no restrictions in the activities that they cannot do from this point onwards.

Hip Replacement Recovery Timeline in the Elderly

Hip replacement surgeries are a very common surgery in the elderly population and although the steps for the recovery are no different than patients who are younger, it may be the case that the elderly patient takes longer to recover from the hip replacement due to them having a decreased physiological reserve as compared to a younger patient. This is normal and should be stressed to elderly patients who are to undergo hip replacement surgery that they may take longer to recover from this and that this is perfectly normal and does not indicate that the hip replacement has failed.

Life after Hip Replacement

Hip replacement surgery is the most successful surgical procedure across all the subspecialties of surgery and patient’s satisfaction is consistently reported as being 95% or higher. Patients are able to live active and healthy lifestyles with a hip replacement and it is known to improve people’s quality of life significantly.

The only limitations that your surgeon may advise you of living with a hip replacement will be related to the range of motion that you can be expected to experience after the surgery. Although most people they do not notice any limitations in their range of motion in activities of daily living, certain activities that rely on extremes of range of motion in the hip should be avoided. This includes some of the more complex and advanced yoga poses or gymnastic activity that would place the hip at extremes of range of motion. These activities should be discouraged as they can lead to complications including hip dislocation.

However, that certainly does not mean that patients are not able to do these activities, moreover that they should be counseled that, when performing these activities, they should maintain a slightly decreased range of motion of the hip than they would have otherwise done without a hip replacement. For example, yoga poses that do not put the hip in adduction or external rotation are perfectly acceptable for patients who have received a hip replacement through a lateral approach, and ones that do not put the hip in abduction or internal rotation are perfectly acceptable for patients who have received a hip replacement through a posterior approach.

How much walking should I do after Hip Replacement?

Your surgeon or healthcare provider will not place any limitation on the amount of walking that you can do following a hip replacement. We would certainly encourage ambulation, as this is one of the best activities that you can do to help you recover from the hip replacement surgery. It is important to remember that if ambulation necessitates the use of the gait aid, this is entirely acceptable and should not be seen as a sign of slow progress or failure. Using a cane even up to the 6-week point is perfectly reasonable and although we would want you to eventually to progress to ambulating without the gait aid in the early postoperative phase, these are commonly used and can help facilitate good outcomes.

Hip Replacement Recovery Exercises

Although ambulating uses all of the muscles that we aim to strengthen after a hip replacement, there are certain exercises that will help your hip muscles recover strength quicker.

Straight leg raises with the leg out straight will help strengthen hip flexors and is a low impact exercise that can be done anywhere without any special equipment. This involves the patient lying on their back and raising the leg straight up in the air and holding it against gravity for a count of 8 seconds before allowing it to gently come back down to the flat surface. Repeating this 8 times twice a day will help strengthen the hip flexors.

Active abduction, particularly in patients who may have had a lateral approach hip replacement, will help strengthen the abductor muscles. This involves standing with the contralateral side against the wall and moving the leg to the side and holding it against gravity for kind of 8 seconds and allowing it to come back down to neutral carefully. As with the straight leg raises performing this for a count of 8 seconds 8 times in a row twice or even three times a day will help strengthen the abductors. This exercise can also be performed lying in a lateral position with the nonoperative side being laid on and the operative side being pointed towards the ceiling. Raising the leg to the side against gravity as with the standing portion of the exercise will also help strengthen the abductors.

Hip Replacement Exercises to avoid

Any exercises that place the hip in positions that are considered unsafe should be avoided. These positions include pushing the hip to the extremes of its range of motion. Depending on your surgical approach, your surgeon may also had given you hip precautions to follow which include not crossing your legs, not externally rotating your leg beyond 90 degrees and not extending your hip beyond the neutral position. These restrictions are usually discontinued after 6 weeks or even earlier for a subset of patients that have received the hip replacement surgery through a lateral approach.

What not to do after a Hip Replacement?

Aside from the aforementioned exercises performing activities that are exceptionally jarring or put a high amount of strain across the hip should be avoided. These include jumping either from a height or from a standing position. Sporting activity should also be avoided in the immediate postoperative period, particularly sports that put a great deal of stress across the hip including tennis, soccer and weight lifting.

What type of pain medication will I take after my Total Hip Replacement?

You will usually be started on a narcotic analgesic to control your pain after your hip replacement surgery. Each patients’ postoperative analgesic regimen is tailored to their specific needs and so different drugs are used for different patients. It is also important to mention if you have taken any of these drugs in the past and reacted badly to them. This will help your surgeon decide the most appropriate pain medication for you. First line pain medications include hydromorphone and oxycodone and these can be used in conjunction with Tylenol. These should be weaned off after 2 to 3 weeks following the surgery if not sooner. By the 6-week period ideally, the patient would only require Tylenol occasionally to control that pain or a lower potency analgesics such as codeine or tramadol.

How long will I be on pain medication after my Hip Replacement surgery?

Each patients’ experience of pain after the hip replacement surgery is different and therefore, every patient should expect to be on pain medication for a different amount of time. With that being said, we usually aim to have you weaned off your narcotic analgesic by 2 to 3 weeks after the surgery if not sooner. Usually by 6 weeks, patients will have well controlled pain and are seldom requiring lower potency analgesics or Tylenol and by 3 months, the patient is not usually requiring any pain medications at all.


Hip replacement surgery is known to be the most effective surgical procedure across all the surgical specialties. The patient consistently reports positive outcomes and over 95% of patients are satisfied with the surgery and would, and frequently do, undergo the surgery again should they develop arthritis in the contralateral hip. If you feel that you may be a candidate for hip replacement and are experiencing hip pain, speak to one of our surgeons who will assess you and advise if you are a candidate for hip replacement.

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Dr. Nakul Karkare is awesome! And patriotic! Thank you, Dr. Karkare for displaying the American Flag in your waiting room, honoring and mourning our military personnel, this Memorial Day, who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
00:52 30 May 23
Excellent and skilled orthopedic practice specializing in joint replacements. Dr Karkare was trained at the Hospital for Special Surgery and has excellent results, as do his associates!! Would gladly refer family members to the practice!!
00:24 30 May 23
I had such a wonderful experience with Complete Orthopedics in Stony Brook. Not only did Dr. Kuo fix my broken wrist with such kindness and care, but the office staff, including Billing, Reception and the X-Ray Technician, was always so helpful, going out of their way to ensure that each patient felt welcome, answering any questions with a smile, and ensuring any issues with insurance/billing were handled with the utmost professionalism. I highly recommend their practice!
Victoria DeMatteo
19:49 10 May 23
I'm very happy St. Catherine's sent me to this office for treatment after I broke my collar bone! Unfortunately the break was too severe to repair on its own and I had to have it rebuilt a week after the injury. Dr. Vaksha did a great job fixing it. I'm three months out, and I have full use of the arm and shoulder. The whole office staff is very professional, accommodating, and welcoming. I hope to not need orthopedic services again, but Dr. Vaksha will be my number one choice if I or anyone in family suffers such am injury.
Tina Rivera
20:42 08 May 23
No one likes going to the doctor. But these people make it painless. I go for knees, hips and shoulders. At almost 70 Complete Orthopedics keeps my active life style running smoothly. Whether chasing my Grandson and even surfing again, I highly recommend them!!
Thomas Slavin
15:02 02 Mar 23
Dr. Kuo knowledgeable and competent surgeon- very good experience and more importantly great result.
Joseph McCoy
21:23 25 Feb 23
Dr Vaksha was so kind and helpful. He took extra time with us and explained things so thoroughly. Highly recommend. Office very clean.
Susan Bosinius
20:20 19 Feb 23
Dr Vaksha, is a great doctor very professional knows what he talking about. Treat patient with upmost respect. Thank You
Troy Spencer
16:46 19 Jan 23
Dr. Karkare is an amazing doctor, very caring and attentive, the girl at the front desk is very kind and helpful. .elizabeth .thank you so much .
blanca ventura
21:32 26 Oct 22
Been going to this place before my accident and after I had my knee surgery. So happy how I been treated and how well I am getting. Thank you all and specially Dr. VAKSHA for everything and getting back on track.
Ita Opico
19:01 25 Oct 22
Love this place From the minute I called I was treated kindly. When I arrived The Dr saw me right away he was compassionate and ordered the appropriate tests for me. I came back in for my follow up and had the same great experience.
Christine Rostock
21:28 23 May 22
Dr Vaksha and Dr karkare are 2 of the best orthopedic doctors around my wife Susan had a very serious broken ankle in March of 2019 she didn't think she was going to walk again Dr vaksha did an excellent surgery on her ankle he said it was his toughest he ever did he put a lot of hardware in her ankle and told her she would be alright she made remarkable recovery thanks to his surgery as of now she regained 100 percent use of her ankle she would highly recommend him to anyone. My own experience with Dr karkare has been wonderful he takes his time with you listens to what you have to say and prescribes various treatments and is very caring I would highly recommend him to anyone I would give both doctors a 10 plus rating we are very happy with them the best.
Harry Jones
23:31 19 May 22
Complete orthopedics is a wonderful place to go when you hurt or injured a great staff and wonderful doctors very knowledgeable and helpful I would recommend this place to all of my family and friends that is in me of orthopedic care I give them 10 thumbs up
Wayne Pemberton
17:39 18 May 22
The staff is very professional and helpful. Dr. Vaksha is excellent. He takes time to listen and offer suggestions to help you get better. I’m very thankful and happy to be a patient here at Complete Orthopedics.
Phoenix Rising
19:54 16 May 22
Dr.Karkare is the best. He listens to everything and explains everything I recommend him to everyone. I am so happy he is my doctor.
Myrna James
00:48 13 May 22
Dr.Kuo is amazing very attentive,caring,and passionate and staff is awsome too.Thank you for everything Dr.kuo.
Erick Murillo
23:17 12 May 22
I was in a car accident November 1 I was referred to Dr. Vaksha For shoulder surgery . I he was amazing he made me feel very comfortable and explained everything that was going to happen from surgery all the way through my physical therapy highly recommend Dr. Vaksha
Yolanda Ojeda
19:37 09 May 22
My appointment with Dr. Vaksha was amazing. Dr. Vaksha was very thorough and kind. I would refer this office to anyone who needs a great orthopedic doctor.
John Senechal
19:54 05 May 22
Scheduling my appointment was quick and easy. The staff was super friendly and down to earth. I was seen on time. The appropriate test, “x-rays” were taken before the conversation with doctor, something I really liked, test for analysis and conversation was done upfront. Dr. V had a great personality and was no BS, straight forward diagnosis and a play on next steps. I am happy I found them and would refer them to friends and family.
00:46 03 May 22
I have seen Dr. Kuo two times already and he's awesome along with his staff. Very friendly office and I'm glad to be a patient here.
Camaris A
20:01 28 Apr 22
Amazing team!! Very caring, profesional, and friendly!! Dr. Kevin Kuo, you are the best, very passionate, caring, and helping thank you for getting me better and being so kind to me! Elizabeth you the best thank you for you help always and you big smile and positive actitud❤️🙏🏼
breidy valerio
19:01 22 Apr 22
The staff is truly exceptional, they make you feel comfortable and welcomed. The doctors are amazing,always professional, compassionate and great listeners.
Elizabeth Collado
03:25 09 Apr 22
What a great place! The place is clean and organized.The staff is wonderful. Setting up physical therapy is right there as well.I'm so glad I found this place.
Donna Anne
22:45 05 Apr 22
This was my 1st time breaking something in my 27 years on this planet. I was recommended here by a friend Dr. Vashka helped me from day 1 and still continues to check in on me and my healing ankle. Would highly recommend
tyron davis
16:06 01 Apr 22
Brand new office, same great doctors! Rooms are clean, plenty of parking, physical therapy attached, Dr. Karkare and his staff are awesome. Thank you!
Emily B
02:49 24 Mar 22
Dr.VAksha is the best, I love the way he treats me as his patient, he is caring,understanding and very attentive to my needs
Mirna Caballero
14:53 03 Mar 22
Great staff. Dr. Vaksha is awesome and takes the time to listen to his patients. He is very compassionate. I would highly recommend this office.
Bebe Doyle
01:24 23 Feb 22
After suffering from a severe ankle injury Dr. V was able to help me heal and return back to work completely to a job where I stand for 12 hours a day. The office is very clean and I appreciated the reminders of my appointments via phone call and through text. The patient portal made it easy for me to access all my documents including work notes. The office staff is wonderful and Rebecca was able to schedule me with a busy schedule and awesome at answering all of my questions including referring me to a great physical therapy office. I highly recommend this office to anyone who’s looking for knowledgeable and kind orthopedic office.
Elizabeth Birchwell
21:31 28 Jan 21
The staff here are great, I was seen at the time of my appointment and was well taken care of!
Shaun Berry
18:14 07 Jan 21
They are an excellent practice. The front and back office people are amazing and so helpful. Rebecca is such a kind and understanding person. I had an issue with paperwork and she cleared it right up. Dr. Karkare is very knowledgeable, helpful, and caring.
Matt S.
19:31 18 Nov 20
Rebecca K. - What a true burst of sunshine. Very friendly and definitely an asset to the practice!
Laura Aston
18:17 17 Nov 20
Great experience, the Doctor is nice but the staff is incredible. I worked with Linda, who was profession and assisted me beyond what any person has done at other practices. Complete Ortho should be complimented for having such a person on their staff.I highly recommend this place!!!
Joe Allen
17:26 17 Nov 20
Linda and Becca they are so good ever time I come they are very nice I would tell everyone I no to come to this office..
Barbara Victor
16:45 17 Nov 20
I was rear ended in an auto accident , Dr Vashka was recommended by a friend of mine .I was experiencing Back , neck , and shoulder pain . After a thorough examination and given exercises to do at home , I am feeling much better , and I ended up avoiding surgery . The staff at Complete Ortho is extremely attentive and show great care when making an appointment and are very friendly and i never waited more than 5 minutes for my appointment . So I would strongly recommend Complete Orthopedics for any aches and pains that one might be experiencing.....
Bill Becht
04:44 17 Nov 20
It was the afternoon of Friday Sept. 24. We were in Pt. Jefferson and my wife, Mary Ann, broke her hip. We went to Mather Hospital and it was determined that she would have to have an operation to have it repaired. This would be her third time under the knife in the past year. It just so happened that we were very fortunate enough to have Dr. Karkare, who was on standby, perform the surgery. He put in a rod and two screws in her hip. She spent a few days in the hospital and then went to Gurwin rehabilitee for another few weeks.It has now been almost six weeks and we both worked the election the other day. If it wasn’t for Dr. Karkare’s expertise she never would have been able to work. She is able to walk with a walker and is doing physical therapy three times a week.We can not thank the doctor enough for the compassion and dedication that he puts into his work. It allows Mary Ann do the things that she likes to do, even on a limited basis for a while. I know that with her will, perseverance and the great work that the surgeon performed she will be back on her feet in no time.Sincerely:John V. PlumpEast Northport, NY 11731
Jack Harris
14:36 06 Nov 20
In the year of 2018 I was referred to Dr. Karkare because I was experiencing severe knee joint pain. After exhausting physical therapy and trying to labor through the pain, I had to make a quality of life decision. Total knee replacement was the only viable option. Dr. Karkare made my decision easy as he walked me through the whole process from surgery to recovery.On 12/13/19 ( Friday the 13th) I enter Lenox Hill Hospital in great hands. From the time I entered Dr. Karkare’s office for the first time until now, his staff has been amazing. Andrea the medical coordinator walked me through all the paper work and necessary preparations for the surgery. Courtesy and kind would be an understatement. Dr. Karkare went over and beyond from the wellness checks and phone calls all to assure me that I was important to him. This was the right decision no pain and no limp. Complete Orthopedics should be your choice!
Kenneth Randolph
22:18 25 Sep 20
Dr. Vadshka has a great bedside manner. He really takes his time and explains treatment options.
T Lee
12:33 09 Sep 20
I suffered with pain in both knees for years. My orthopedic doctor kept recommending knee replacement . I fought it for years, as I was just afraid. When I had no choice and could barely walk , it was recommended I see Dr. Karkare. We set up a consultation and my wife and I left his office feeling totally confident and comfortable with moving ahead with the surgery. He explained everything to us, and the office staff set everything up for us and made the process easy. So about one month after our initial meeting I had the first knee done. I was up walking mere hours after the surgery, and on the workout machines the next morning. I went home two days after the surgery, and yes walked my daughter down the aisle at her wedding only one week after the surgery without even a cane! Three months later I had the other knee done and went home the very next day. Dr. Karkare put my fears to rest . I would highly recommend him. His expertise gave me my life back. Thank you Dr. Karkare.SincerelyVito Congro
Ethel Congo
23:58 12 Aug 20
Dr Rhodin really cares for his patients. When I see him he makes sure to review my progress in detail.
Micki Cahill
15:03 08 Feb 20
My mom had a total hip replacement by dr karkare. He is the BEST orthopedic doctor.Her incision is almost invisable.She is going back for her other hip next week. The office staff is the best, love Andrea.You wont find a better doctor.
Ryan Brigandi
21:06 13 Jul 18
There is no better Orthopedic doctor you will find. Broke my ankle three places on a Saturday. Called Dr. Karkare. He had is team ready at the hospital and operated on me within 6 hours after my injury. Now After 3 months of great care by him and his staff, I am walking to normalcy.
Spacecom Tel
04:13 23 Mar 18

I am fellowship trained in joint replacement surgery, metabolic bone disorders, sports medicine and trauma. I specialize in total hip and knee replacements, and I have personally written most of the content on this page.

You can see my full CV at my profile page.