The first thing I did when I finally decided on doing an exploratory hip surgery was look up what people said about healing after hip reconstruction surgery. I wanted to make sure that I knew as much as I possible about what I needed to do in order to heal and what I could do to prepare before surgery to get the best outcome possible. Who better to learn that from than those who have gone through it themselves?
Unfortunately, there wasn’t really a whole lot of firsthand information on what healing after hip reconstruction was like for those who had the actual surgery. Most of the information was from the orthopedic surgeons who did these surgeries routinely and, while those posts were helpful, I was also interested in the patient’s experience as well. Since there wasn’t a lot of first hand information available on healing after hip reconstruction surgery I decided to share my own experience. I’ll be updating regularly on what helped and what didn’t, what my physical therapy was like, what items helped me the most during healing and much more!
***There are affiliate links in this post so I may receive money from any purchases you make. However, all opinions are my own and I only recommend products that I love.***
Leading up to Surgery
For two weeks before the surgery I wasn’t allowed to take anything with Ibuprofen in it and of course my period was scheduled to come right before the surgery (mother nature was not on my side for this one!). My periods are murderous and even Norco on it’s own isn’t enough to allow me to get to work. I honestly wasn’t sure I could do this, but I did! It was extremely painful, but I made it!
I continued physical therapy and my exercises right up until surgery to have my body in the healthiest condition for healing after hip reconstruction surgery. During my pre-op meeting they fitted me for my brace, brushed me up on how to use crutches correctly and answered any questions I may have (I had a ton). Since I was doing an exploratory surgery the doctors prepared me for all possible outcomes. If I ended up just having a labral repair I would be in the brace and on crutches for two weeks, but if I ended up having to have a full hip reconstruction then I would be in the brace and on crutches for 6 weeks.
The day before the surgery I also had to stop eating at midnight which is typical night before surgery protocols and take an antibacterial shower. My boyfriend originally wasn’t going to come with me to the surgery because I wanted him to save some vacation time in case I needed him to take some off while I was healing and I was just going to have my mom take me. I ended up being really anxious the night before the surgery and he surprised me by deciding to come the next day. Total sweetheart move and his support made everything so much easier since this was the first surgery I’ve actually gotten anxious about.
The Day of Surgery
I woke up at 6 AM which is waaay too early and took another antibacterial shower and grabbed all the items I’d prepared by the door the night before that I needed to bring to surgery. The last thing I remember before the surgery was getting wheeled in, moved onto another table and thinking to myself how this room looked like a torture chamber with all the different medical equipment laying around. I think I maaaay have said this out loud. Whoops! In my defense I was very nervous. I was so, so grateful when they said they knew the room was freezing and had some warming blankets ready to go for me. Talk about heaven. Then it was lights out. I don’t remember even having the anesthesia administered this time.
Next thing I know I’m waking up in the post-op recovery room to the voice of a lovely nurse named Carla. That’s when they told me they had to do a full hip reconstruction and I believe I just kept muttering “I wasn’t crazy. I knew I wasn’t crazy. They actually found something”. I’m pretty sure I just kept repeating that because I felt so relieved after finding out that there was a lot for them to find wrong in my hip. I didn’t think I’d ever be so excited to hear there was something wrong with me! Strong pain meds can make anyone act a little nutter butters!
I was fading in and out, but I remember Carla saying “let’s get this off of you” as she took out those nose things that give you oxygen. Next thing I know my mom was next to me and I asked her how things went and what the doctor said. She told me again that I had to have a full hip reconstruction and that what little was left of my labrum was shriveled up. She seemed amazed at how bad it had been. Then I passed back out.
I woke up again and I was back in my room and really, really needed to pee. They gave me some ice chips, juice and gluten-free cookies. The intubation tube really got me during this surgery. My throat hurt so bad and my mouth was soooo dry that I could barely swallow the dry gluten-free cookies I got. They gave me a few more pain meds and then unhooked me from the IV so that I could pee.
One of my surgeon’s Physician’s Assistants came in and gave me my protocol. A protocol is basically your game plan for healing. It outlines when you can start physical therapy, what you can do in physical therapy and when, what meds you should take….basically how you should be living your life for the next 6 months.
I ended up needing a full hip reconstruction and healing after hip reconstruction surgery requires not starting up PT for 6 weeks due to the fragile nature of my hip, but I’m supposed to bike at zero resistance for 2 hours a day to keep my range of motion (ROM). You have the option of using a CPM which passively moves your leg around, but the medical community has seen better results from patients using the bike due to mind body connection. I have Hydrocodone to take every 6 hours, Naproxen and Aspirin to take each morning and evening and Prilosec to protect my stomach from all the pain meds. I also was given Colace to keep everything moving because anesthesia can slow things down majorly not to mention the pain meds.
The exact medical jargon of what I had done for all your nerds out there is a hip arthroscopy that resulted in a labral reconstruction, femoroplasty, acetabluloplasty, capsular plication and an illiopsoas fractional lengthening. Keep reading to find out how my first week was healing after hip reconstruction surgery.
The First Week Healing After Hip Reconstruction Surgery
Day of surgery-
After surgery I went home and rested. Sleeping plays a big part in healing after hip reconstruction surgery. You have to give your body the energy it needs to repair itself. The pain hadn’t really set in yet since they had injected the surgery site with some pain medication before they closed up, but I couldn’t feel the top part of my thigh or my hip so moving around was difficult. I just grabbed the top of my brace and kind of maneuvered it where I needed it to go. Going to the bathroom was a whole other ordeal and the first day I definitely needed help in lowering myself down to the seat. You have to park your humility at door with this surgery, unfortunately.
I think I ate dinner and went to bed? I honestly don’t really remember since heavy pain meds tend to make me black out a bit.
I woke up around 8 in the morning when my mom came over and had her help me to the bathroom and then hopped onto the bike to get in my first portion of bike time. They told me I didn’t need to get all two hours at once (thank god), but I was hoping for at least half an hour. It ended up being a really sad 15 minutes because the pain was just too much. I put a call into my doctor’s office to make sure that severity of pain was normal, which they said it was, and the proceeded to fit in some biking throughout my day. I tried my best to time it up with when I took my Norco so that I’d be able to bike a little longer.
My ice packs were some of my best friends and I definitely suggest icing even when you don’t feel like you need it. One of the main goals post-surgery is to keep down the swelling as much as possible which is where all the ice packs, Naproxen and Aspirin come in. Gas X and stool softeners will make your life so much easier too. My stomach always gets pissed off after anesthesia and keeping your digestion moving is super important. The last thing you want when you’re in a ton of pain is to be constipated on top of it!
I only ended up getting in about an hour of biking, but I didn’t beat myself up too much over it since it was only my first day after surgery.
Woke up again around 8 AM when my godsend of a mother came bringing Starbucks. I hopped on the bike and got my first hour out of the way. I wish I could say that I spent the day updating my blog and doing social media, but I really just spent it binge watching The 100. I couldn’t really sleep, but I didn’t have enough energy to really do anything either. Sidenote: I really disliked the first season for The 100, but I loved season 2 and on.
I finished up my second hour of biking and then called it a night. I couldn’t lean forward yet on the bike because it caused too much referral pain into my knee and my hip was still feeling too tight so I biked upright almost the whole time. Moving around was still very difficult and I couldn’t move my right leg unless I grabbed my brace and shoved it around. My abdominals on the right side were still very sore and tender from the surgery and the fractional psoas release.
Day 3 through 6-
These were pretty much just a repeat of Day 2, but around Day 5 I started getting feeling back in my thigh. The only highlight was getting to shower on day 4.
I got to take off my giant bandages and replace them with band-aids over each wound! My right groin, hip and lower back all hurt if I try sitting up too long, but other than that I’m doing pretty well. I’m able to bike about an hour and 10 minutes at a time and am a lot less tired. Today was the first day that my abdominal cramping wasn’t severe. I’m hoping it lasts since abdominal pain and cramping was one of the reasons I got this surgery in the first place. Woot!
Need to Have Products For Healing After Hip Surgery
While healing after hip reconstruction surgery is incredibly painful and uncomfortable there are some products I highly recommend that make the whole process easier.
My first purchase was a wedge pillow because I know from my labral repair in 2011 that for the first week or so it was really hard to straighten my leg out post surgery, especially when sleeping. I’m also a side-sleeper and hate sleeping on my back, but the wedge actually made sleeping on my back way more tolerable.
I was able to borrow a stationary bike from my family, but this is the one I was going to buy if I had needed to. It has great reviews and reviewers have commented that the seat is actually comfortable which is super important after hip surgery.
One of the biggest issues with being stuck on crutches is that you can’t carry anything so a little pouch is a must have. With this great pouch I’m able to carry my bottle of kombucha, phone, pills and anything else I need. This was definitely a level up from my last surgery when I just wore a sweatshirt all the time so that I could just stuff things in my kangaroo pouch.
You will absolutely not want to wear jeans so joggers and pajama pants are going to be your outfit of choice. These are a pair I picked up that I’ve basically been living in and they’re so comfy! Plus, they come in a ton of different colors.
I didn’t need a shower stool with a back to it, but I’m still shy of 30-years-old so depending on your age you may want to invest in a stool with a back to it. This is the one that I used. I really, really didn’t want to use a shower stool because just the thought of one made me feel like I was extremely incapable, but I’m so glad I got one. Standing up long enough to shower after hip surgery would have been a no go.
I’ve made really good use of this laptop table I bought. It’s large enough to be able to use your laptop, a mouse on and a keyboard if you’d like.
Slip-on shoes are a great idea because you won’t be able to reach down to tie your shoelaces and who wants to have to ask someone to tie your shoes each time you need to go out? I got these Vince Camuto slip-ons and I adore them. Not only are they comfortable, but they are super cute with their velvet accents.
Lots of ice packs!
Check out my second week healing after hip reconstruction surgery here and you can check out my other weeks from there! Check out my posts about meditation here and here because meditation can be a great healing tool! Have you had a similar experience or are you about to get hip surgery? Let me know below. I’d love to hear from you!