If you are experiencing pain due to osteoarthritis in your hip joint, you are not alone. Many older adults must deal with osteoarthritis as they age, and it can be extremely painful. When the pain gets very severe in your hip joints, your doctor may recommend a hip replacement. Doctors also recommend hip replacements for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteonecrosis.
Hip replacements, clearly, are typically reserved for those already experiencing extreme pain in their hips. For this reason, many patients do not complain about excessive pain after their surgery. Modern medical technology has also reduced the level of pain after a hip replacement surgery. Even so, any prospective surgery can raise the concern of postoperative pain management, and it is best to be mentally prepared for whatever may come your way, especially as you age. Luckily, there are some simple ways to deal with your postoperative pain, some as simple as sitting on an ergonomic pillow such as a coccyx pillow .
As you read these pain management techniques, keep in mind that pain management is essential to the healing process. If you do not keep your pain at a tolerable level, you risk not being able to do the rehabilitative exercises that are required. If you don’t follow through with rehabilitation, you can lengthen the healing process and develop blood clots and pneumonia.
1. Manage Your Expectations
As mentioned above, any surgery, especially one performed on load bearing joints like the knee or hip, will come with a lot of recovery time and rest. You need to make sure that you take the time to heal after your surgery. Even though the healing time is relatively quick for hip surgery, make sure to set aside a few weeks or a few months of lowered rates of activity. Your doctor will help you determine a time line.
For severe pain, use ice in combination with medication to increase your level of comfort. If you are experiencing only minor pain, you can use ice alone for additional comfort. If you do not already own them, purchase a few gel ice packs before your surgery and keep them in the freezer. Make sure to buy several, as you are going to need to swap them out on a regular basis as they thaw. Make sure to put a towel or other piece of material between your skin in the ice pack after you take it out of the freezer to protect your skin. While icing your hips, make sure that your legs are elevated. Ice time is also a good time to get some much-needed rest.
Speaking of rest, as with any surgery, you will need plenty of it during your recovery period. For the first week after your surgery, make sure that you are frequently resting and doing only small amounts of physical activity. The first week of recovery is critical, and your doctor will know what is best for your case. If you do get enough rest, you will feel significantly better by the time your 10-day check-up comes along. By this time, most of the pain should be felt in the tissue rather than in the joint. You may need to use a walker, crutches, or another walking assistance device for up to four weeks after receiving your replacement hip. Typically, by the sixth week, if you have been resting religiously, you should be able to resume your normal activities.
Many people refuse to take painkillers for fear of addiction, or because they fear that they will seem weak. As mentioned previously, pain management is essential in the recovery process. If you are experiencing too much pain and cannot rest or do your rehabilitative exercises, you may need to take your prescribed painkillers, regardless of your fears. Your doctor or surgeon may prescribe you with very strong pain medication for the first part of your recovery. If you fear addiction, try asking for a lower dose, or simply tell your doctor your concerns and ask for their recommendations. Extreme pain also means that the area could be swelling, which leads to inflammation. Make sure to communicate with your doctor clearly and honestly about the levels of pain you are experiencing.
Using pillows or a folded blanket to elevate your legs while you are sleeping or resting will help mitigate much of the swelling and pain that you may experience. It is not important what you use as long as it is comfortable and raises your feet above your hips. Elevation, when combined with ice and medication, is one of the best ways to reduce pain after surgery.