Hamilton Health Sciences
Hip Replacement Surgery

After Surgery and Hospital Stay 


nurse and orthopedic surgeon Your surgery will take about 1.5 hours.

After your surgery you are taken to the Post Anesthetic Care Unit or PACU for close observation, pain control and additional care as needed. You may have a pillow or splint between your legs.You will stay for about 1 to 1.5 hours. From here you will go to the orthopedic unit, E2.

You will be encouraged to do as much for yourself as possible. We encourage you and your family to take part in your care. If you have any cultural practices that we can help with, please let your nurse know.

You can expect to go home 2 days after your operation. For example, if you have your operation on a Monday, you will be discharge by 10:00 am on Wednesday morning.

What you can expect on Unit E2

Once you arrive on the unit, the nurses check your vital signs:

  • Nursing shift change is at 7:00 am and 7:00 pm daily
  • The therapy team works 8:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. You will meet with a therapist at least once a day starting on the day after your operation.
  • Meal times are 7:10 am, 12:30 pm and 5:00 pm.
  • You will have blood drawn at 5:00 am every morning.

Day of Surgery

Once you arrive on the unit, and through out your hospital stay, the nurses will check your:

  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • breathing rate
  • temperature
  • dressing over your incision

nurse and patient

Your leg may be bruised, swollen and painful as you move. The nurses will check your dressing and ask you about your pain and give you pain medication.

You may need oxygen which is given through your nose.

You will sit up at the side of the bed and may take a few steps.

What you need to know?

  • Pain Control- It is normal to have pain after surgery and pain needs to be controlled to start moving. The pain will be controlled with medications, ice packs and good positioning of your leg. Members of the health care team will help you with pain relief. The pain will lessen over time as you heal. It is important to have your pain controlled so that you can do your hip exercises and move around.

  • Nausea- You may have an upset stomach or nausea after surgery because of the anesthetic or pain medication.  If you feel unwell or have nausea, tell your nurse. You will be given some medication to help. 

  • Confusion- It is common for some people who have had surgery, who are taking pain medication, to have some confusion. At times just being in the hospital can lead to confusion. This often clears in a few days or weeks in many people. Please talk with your health care provider if you notice that your loved one or friend is acting differently or is restless.

  • Drinking and eating- You may slowly start to drink fluids the night of your surgery. The next day you may slowly start to drink and eat more.

  • Constipation- Constipation is when you have hard stools which make it difficult to have a bowel movement. Pain control medication causes constipation. This added to your decreased activity level may cause problems for you. In the hospital, your nurses will keep track of when you have a bowel movement. Your nurses will encourage you to move and help you get up and use the bathroom. Do not get out of bed without someone to help you. Your therapist will tell you when you can get out of bed on your own.It is important to prevent constipation or at the first sign of a problem to get help. To help prevent constipation:
    • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day (unless you are on fluid restrictions as advised by your health care provider).
    • Increase fibre in your diet
    • Eat lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains
    • Take stool softeners as prescribed
    • Be active

  • Weakness- You may feel tired and dizzy when you get out of bed after surgery. Use your call bell and make sure someone helps you get up until you are safe to move around on your own. Your therapist or nurse will tell you when it is safe for you to walk by yourself.

  • Skin- Healthy skin helps prevent infections. Your dressings and incision will be checked often while you are in hospital.

nurseLying in bed puts pressure on your skin and you can get sores. The first signs of this problem are burning, redness or pain. If you have any of these signs on your buttocks, ankles, heels, elbows, shoulders or ears, talk to your nurse or therapist.

The best way to avoid skin problems is to change positions and avoid lying down in bed for long periods of time. The nurses and therapists will remind you to get up and move as much as possible after surgery. It is important to do this when you go home.

  • Urinary problems-You may have trouble urinating or passing water after surgery. If you cannot start or stop passing urine, are urinating often or have burning when passing urine, talk with your nurse.

  • Blood clots-You have an increased risk of forming a blood clot after surgery. It is very important to do your exercises and get up and move as much as you can after surgery to prevent blood clots. Signs of blood clots are redness, swelling, warmth or pain anywhere in either leg. Tell a member of your health care team right away if you notice any of these signs. Blood thinning medication will be ordered in pill or needle form. You will need to go home on blood thinning medications.

  • Lung Problems- After surgery, your activity will be less than normal. Deep breathing and coughing exercises are important and MUST be done 3-4 times every hour while awake. This will help to prevent mucus from settling in your lungs.

Your recovery

Your recovery starts as soon as you arrive on the unit. You will start deep breathing and circulation exercises when you are lying in bed. It will help you if you can raise the head of your bed a little. Later on, you can do them while sitting in a chair. During the first few days after surgery, do these exercises every hour while you are awake. Ask your family to remind you.

Deep breathing and coughing helps to:

  • keep your lungs expanding fully

  • clear mucous from your lungs and throat

  • reduce the chance of getting a chest infection

How to do deep breathing and coughing:

  1. Lie down or sit up.

  2. Put your hands high up on your stomach.

  3. Breathe in as deeply as you can, You will feel your stomach push out against your hands.

  4. Breathe out slowly through an open mouth.

  5. Repeat 5 times.

  6. Then take a deep breathe and make a strong, deep cough. Just clearing your throat is not enough.  

Circulation exercises

Ankle Pumping

  • Move your ankles up and down
  • Move in circles in both directions

Therapyphysiotherapist and patient

Exercise will help you:

  • strengthen the muscles in your legs 

  • move your new hip and prevent joint stiffness 

  • improve blood supply to your legs

Doing exercises on both legs will help promote good circulation,increase muscle strength, and prevent blood clots.

Your therapist will help you to get started on exercises the first day after surgery.

You are expected to do exercises daily while in hospital and when you go home. As you get stronger your therapist may change the exercises. With hard work, you can get back to being active and enjoying life!

It may be helpful to practice the exercises before you come into the hospital.

Visiting Hours

Open visiting hours allow family and friends to play an important role in a patient’s well-being. Family and friends can visit patients at any time as decided by the patient and based on their care needs. 
Better together...anytime

Falls Prevention

Please use your call bell when you need to get out of bed. Your call bell should ALWAYS be within your reach and will alert the nurse that you are in need of something. Your therapist will let you know when you are safe enough to get in and out of bed on your own.

Review the Tips booklet for reducing your risk for falls.

Hamilton Health Sciences • Hamilton, Ontario • 905.521.2100

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