Joint Replacement Surgery: Recovering From Hip Replacement Surgery

February 07, 2019

Man on crutches walking outside
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

For many people, arthritis, injuries or other conditions make walking, standing and even sitting difficult. If you've explored other options for treatment, but none have been successful at managing pain or increasing your mobility, your doctor may recommend a joint replacement surgery, like a total hip replacement.

Even though this procedure allows many to live without pain, you probably have concerns about recovering from hip replacement surgery. You're probably wondering when you'll be able to get back to work and, once you're there, how you can set yourself up for successful healing. Fortunately, you can take action to make your recovery at work as easy as possible.

Is Hip Replacement Surgery Right for You?

Almost anyone can have joint replacement surgery, including a total hip replacement. This procedure is most commonly performed on people aged 50 to 80 after other treatments fail. In general, the most common reasons people have hip replacement surgery are:

  • Continuous hip pain while resting
  • Decreased mobility, including bending and walking, because of hip pain
  • Stiffness in the hip that limits mobility
  • Pain that isn't managed by other therapies, such as medications or physical therapy

Only your doctor can determine whether a hip replacement is right for you. If the results of certain diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs), determine joint replacement surgery is a good option, you'll move forward with your procedure.

Getting Back to Work After Your Procedure

After your joint replacement surgery, you'll need a significant amount of time to recover. Some studies indicate it takes an average of 12 weeks to be healthy enough to return to work, especially if you have a job that's more physical in nature. However, if you have a more sedentary office job, you may be able to return to work within six to eight weeks. But even though you're back at the office, it's important to pace yourself and make it easy for your body to continue to heal.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to scale back your work hours, at least initially. This gets you back on the job but also allows your body to slowly adjust to the increased demands put on your new hip. As many as 20 percent of people work less after hip replacement surgery.

Standing, sitting or walking for prolonged periods of time can all damage your new hip and make it more difficult for your body to heal. It's important to give yourself the tools you need to stay comfortable and promote healing. This may include specialized equipment like:

  • Standing desks, which allow you to comfortably switch between a sitting and standing position.
  • Desk risers, which function like standing desks but rest on your existing desk.
  • Ergonomic seat cushions to help relieve pressure on your new hip and help make sitting more comfortable.

As you heal, you'll gradually be able to do more and move more normally. While you're in the recovery period, it may help to let your coworkers know you'll need a little extra time to move around. Additionally, delegating some job duties can help keep you engaged in your job while also relieving potential stress.

The majority of people recovering from hip replacement surgery are able to return to work with no limitations on movement or performance. If you're concerned about your ability to work after your surgery, speak with your doctor about what kind of post-operative therapies may help you recover faster.

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