Not sure what to expect after hip surgery? We polled real THR patients for their top questions, then asked leading orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Nima Mehran for the answers.
In a poll to our Facebook group Hip & Knee Replacement Surgery Advice & Support: From PreHab to Recovery, we asked what questions they’d want answered about hip replacement recovery. What a response!
Surgery is confusing, particularly without a trustworthy guide. It’s one of the many reasons we created PeerWell – to help guide you through life before and after surgery or pain.
If you’re already a PeerWell Health patient, you have access to your extensive PreHab or ReHab program in the app – complete with physical therapy, nutrition advice, home set up and daily activity help.
Read on for this exclusive interview with Dr. Nima Mehran, top orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles, who answers 7 of your top hip replacement recovery questions.
7 FAQs after total hip replacement (THR)
1. My legs seem to be different lengths after surgery. Why is this?
This is common and can happen after a joint replacement for various reasons
Dr. Nima: Leg length discrepancy is a common occurrence. The surgeon's goal is to create a stable hip. In doing so, your anatomy may force the surgeon to adjust both leg length and offset. This could add length to your leg. Also, keep in mind that in an arthritic hip the joint space collapses and your leg length has likely been shorter than normal for years. So it is also possible to have identical leg lengths but feel longer.
2. The skin around my incision feels tight, especially when I move. I'm a month post surgery. Is this normal? What can I do?
This can be caused by scar tissue. Your physical therapist can teach you scar massage techniques.
Dr. Nima: After surgery, it’s normal to have scar tissue. Particularly, if it’s a revision surgery you’ll have more scar tissue. Work with your physical therapist. They have techniques to loosen up scar tissue and reduce tightness.
Learn how to do a basic scar tissue massage with Kaitlynn Mueller, Doctor of Physical Therapy at PeerWell Health.
3. Should I be careful about falling after surgery?
Falls after surgery are dangerous. Physical therapy helps you not only strengthen your muscles to avoid falls, but also decreases your likelihood of falling.
Dr. Nima: If you’re concerned about falling, definitely talk to your physical therapist or surgeon. Gait evaluation and strength testing may provide more information.
4. I have a wobble when I walk. I'm a few months post-surgery. When I walk, it hurts for the first few minutes. Is this normal?
Let your own surgeon be your guide on what's normal or abnormal.
Dr. Nima: If you don’t think your progress is normal, you can follow up with your surgeon for x-rays and a physical exam.
5. I still haven’t gotten my strength back, despite being a few months post surgery. What can I do?
Slowly but surely, you'll regain your strength. Stick with physical therapy.
Dr. Nima: Stay dedicated to your physical therapy. You’ll continue to feel better as your muscles regain their strength.
6. How long before I can walk without a cane?
It depends on how strong you are.
Dr. Nima: This answer is different for everyone. Your pre-operative strength in your gluteus muscles plays a major role. The stronger you were before surgery, the easier it is to get rid of the cane after. On average, most people get rid of it by 6 weeks.
7. My surgeon said my joint replacement went fine, but I'm not sure. Should I get a second opinion?
You can always get a second opinion, if you feel like you need it.
Dr. Nima: If you feel unsure, ask another joint specialist to look at you and your x-rays. By physically examining you and looking at your x-rays, a joint specialist will be able to give you a second opinion.
Dr. Nima Mehran
Sports Medicine Specialist & Orthopedic Surgeon
Specializing in sports medicine and joint replacements, Dr. Nima Mehran attended the Chicago Medical School and was Chief Resident during his orthopedic surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital. Dr. Mehran has published several scientific papers and has delivered numerous lectures. A lifelong sports fan, he has been on the physician team for the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, Ducks, and more.