Lifetime Precautions after a Hip Replacement

By Ben Cornu

Surgeons perform over 450,000 hip replacements each year in the United States. These surgeries can help seniors reduce pain and improve mobility by removing damaged portions of the hip joint and replacing them with implants. However, hip replacements can also leave seniors with some lifetime precautions. Seniors who undergo a hip replacement may need to avoid certain activities and take measures to care for their joint implant and help avoid dislocation. Let’s learn more about lifetime precautions after a hip replacement.  

Lifetime of a Hip Implant 

There are several different types of hip implants available. They can be made of metal, plastic, or ceramic. And the shape of the implant varies depending on the type of hip replacement performed. The lifetime of a hip replacement may depend on the type of implant used along with the lifestyle of an individual. Overall, the 95% of hip replacements are still performing well after 10 years. And many hip replacements last for the rest of an individual's life.  

Lifelong Precautions after a Hip Replacement 

If you respect your hip replacement, it will treat you well! Here are some lifetime precautions that you may need to consider as you care for your new hip.  

Repetitive, High-Impact Activities 

While exercise is good for maintaining muscle tone and balance, some exercises are actually bad for your implant. Repetitive motions and high-impact activities can damage an implant over time. These types of activities include running, heavy weightlifting, jumping, and more. You may need to avoid sports, such as soccer, cross-country running, racquetball, or basketball, which involve these repetitive motions.  

However, don’t give up on exercise! Exercise is actually great for restoring range of motion after a hip replacement. But instead of repetitive, high-impact exercises, try swimming, yoga, or riding a stationary bike.  

Bending Too Far 

Pushing your hip replacement too far can result in dislocation. Seniors should avoid hip flexion past 90 degrees — bending your hip too far or lifting your knee too high. This movement occurs when you lift your leg or your knee up towards your body. For example, when you put on socks or shoes.  

Generally, keep the knee below hip level. Likewise, try to sit in chairs that allow your thigh to be parallel to the floor. Chairs that are too deep or too low can cause your hip to bend more than 90 degrees, putting you at risk for dislocation. Tall seniors may need an elevated cushion on their chairs or even the toilet seat to help them avoid bending forward too far. 

Crossing Your Legs 

Generally, you should avoid crossing your legs after a total hip replacement because it can also lead to dislocation. This motion causes the leg to twist in the hip socket, and your muscles may not be strong enough to keep the joint securely in place.  

There are also other twisting movements to avoid, like pivoting on one leg or walking pigeon toed. If you are a side sleeper, a doctor may recommend that you sleep with a pillow between your legs to help keep the leg and the hips aligned. 

Air Travel 

If your hip replacement contains metal, it is likely that you will set off metal detectors during your security screenings at the airport. In fact, roughly 90% of hip and knee implants set off metal detectors. However, the full body scanners may not go off since they may be able to sense that the metal is inside your body.  

But even if you do set off the alarms, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to fly. If the machines do detect your hip implant, a TSA agent may use their electromagnetic wand to see if you have anything unauthorized on your person. Worst-case scenario, you may be subject to a physical pat-down just to make sure the metal is inside your body. 

Historically, individuals with joint replacements, plates, screws, or rods were given medical ID cards from their doctor that indicated the presence of implanted metal. However, these cards are rarely issued anymore. Instead, you can inform the TSA agent that you have a metal hip implant, and request to go through the full body scanner if you’re directed to a walk-through metal detector.  

Living Life to the Fullest 

While it may take some time to recover after a hip replacement surgery, you can make a full recovery and experience less pain by following your doctor’s orders and incorporating these precautions. But you may want to consider other measures to help you make a safe recovery and maintain your quality of life. For example, you might want to consider using durable medical equipment to help you avoid falls and remain safe. You can also hire a professional caregiver to assist you with tasks at home, like ambulation, personal care, housekeeping, and more. Caring Senior Service has caregivers who are specially trained to assist seniors who have had hip replacements. Reach out to a Caring team near you today. 

Caregiver helping a senior man stand up

Tags: Hip Replacement