Preparing for the operation 

A couple of weeks before the operation, you will usually be asked to attend a pre-operative assessment clinic to meet your surgeon and members of the surgical team.

During the clinic, the hospital team will take your medical history, perform a physical examination and may organise some tests to make sure you are healthy enough for anaesthetic and surgery.

These tests can include:

They will give you advice on anything you can do to prepare for surgery and ask you about your home circumstances so your discharge from hospital can be planned. If you live alone, have a carer or feel you need extra support, tell the team so that help or support can be arranged before you go into hospital.

Take a list or the packaging of any medication you are taking. Some rheumatoid arthritis medications suppress the immune system, which can affect healing. Blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) and hormone replacement therapy may also need to be stopped before surgery.

Your surgeon can advise you about alternative medications.

Exercising before the operation

You can prepare for the operation by staying as active as you can. Strengthening the muscles around your hip will aid your recovery. You may be referred to a physiotherapist, who can give you helpful exercises. If you can, keep up any gentle exercise, such as walking and swimming, in the weeks and months before your operation.

The following exercises can help maintain your muscle strength and movement before surgery:

  • Stand at the bottom of the stairs and put one foot on the second stair. Alternatively, put one foot on a kitchen stool. Hold on to the banister or another firm support. Lean forward to bend the top leg while stretching the front of the standing leg. Hold this for about 30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
  • Stand on the affected leg for short periods, lifting the good leg off the floor. Concentrate on holding the pelvis level. Use a support, if necessary, for balance.
  • Lie on your back on a bed. Pull one leg up to your chest, keeping the other leg flat down on the bed. Repeat the exercise with the other leg. (Only do this exercise if you have not already had a hip replacement on one side.)
  • Lie on your back on a bed. Bend your knee up so that your foot rests flat on the bed and allow the bent knee to fall out to the side as much as is comfortable.
  • Lie on your stomach and then flat on your back for approximately 20 minutes once or twice a day (early morning or late at night while in bed is often a good time), to stretch the front and back of your hip.

Planning for your recovery after surgery

You may not be able to walk unaided for at least four weeks after surgery, and other types of movement – such as stretching or picking things up – may also be severely restricted.

You may want to consider making some changes to your home to make life easier while you recover from the operation, such as:

  • adding a shower seat to your bathroom
  • placing any useful objects at hand level so you do not have to bend down to pick them up
  • stocking up on food that is easy to prepare, such as frozen ready meals, or prepare and freeze your own dishes to reheat during your recovery

Many people find it useful to buy a "reacher grabber" – a handheld device that allows you to pick up objects that are slightly out of reach. These devices are easily available through the internet as well as from shops that sell mobility products.

Preparing for surgery

For more general advice about going into hospital and preparing for surgery, see our surgery planner.

Page last reviewed: 20/07/2014

Next review due: 20/07/2016