My Hip Replacement Journey Week 1

February 1, 2022

Stephen Grinnell My Hip Replacement Journey Week 1

Always a lot happier when the surgery is done and you are recovering

Week 1 - The First Day is Very Intense

I have had osteoarthritis for 22 years in both of my hips. I had my left hip resurfaced 12 years ago at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. I have recently had my right hip replaced at the same hospital, on the 10th December 2018.

This is my recovery story using rehabilitation exercises and functional fitness movements. Most importantly I used InterX therapy for pain and inflammation relief with no medication.  The InterX device also promotes accelerated healing.

This formed the research for my 5 step rehabilitation process I use today with all of my clients.

Successful operation for Hip replacement - Surgery at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital

Day 1

Like lots of patients, I arrive early at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, just before 7am. The waiting room fills up and we are gradually called for final checks to go through what feels like, the same questions, over and over again.

Meet one of the surgical team and go through the planned procedure one last time.  It's the same surgeon I had for my last operation, so I feel in safe hands as  I have not had any issues with my other hip after 12 years. Entering the pre-surgery room is a bit like jumping into cold water, as it makes it feel very real. You are reassured but you know it's really happening and while been apprehensive at first, I did relax, and after a short count was out cold....

Waking up post any surgery is different for everyone, but the overwhelming feeling is always one of relief! It takes a while to focus and fully assess your surroundings. The nursing and support staff are great and reassure you and a tea is always the order of the day. At this point, connected to lower leg compression machines and IV drips, the magnitude of the surgery hits home. The first thing I did was to move my hip and leg, just a fraction, yes a success! Tea time.

You have some food and pleasantries with patients around you but your focus now is visitors, particularly close family, in my case my wife and 8 year old daughter who arrive straight from school. Emotions are always hard as you try to convey you are fine and it went well, but always look the worst for wear.

I had the visit from the surgeon and get the positive news that the operation was a success and that it went without complication. The physiotherapy team arrive to get you out of bed and standing, which is fine getting out of bed as gravity helps, getting back in is much harder. I was measured for crutches and went for a little walk and felt surprisingly OK.

Me taking my first steps post Hip Replacement Surgery.

This was approximately 4 hours from when I returned from surgery and as you can see I am very tentative.

Getting back in bed is always hard as you have to manoeuvre your operated leg and then it hurts as it’s at a weak point. You then get to grips with small movements in the bed to try and get comfortable and rest. Dinner time and visitors have to leave for an hour, always odd eating and drinking initially, as you struggle to go to the toilet due to medication and you never want much.

Time - even a few hours is a great healer and returning visitors and a desire to get moving mean I get out of bed. To have a sit down feels great, to be more normal. Visiting time over and back to bed, to be woken every few hours with medication so the body will accept the new joint and not reject it.

You live every minute of the first day of surgery and recovery and day 2 is also a roller coaster and depending on your surgery, you can go home, which also presents a whole load of new challenges.

Day 2

Always an early start in hospital and today will be a frenzy of activity. First I have a physiotherapy assessment and exercise session at 8am. I do very well, so and hour later I am doing physiotherapy again in order to pass tests of stairs and walking, which I do. I need to pass these to be able to go home. Its then off to Xray, organise transport, collect the biggest bag of medication I have ever had, to be able to leave. I am home by 2pm on Tuesday 11 December 2018, 29 hours after first entering the waiting room.

The reality now sets in and you have to get used to your home environment and that is hard initially. The first week at home, my wife was off work to support me and that makes a huge difference as you have limited mobility and simple things are difficult with crutches, like making a drink and carrying things.

I have one daughter and she struggled with lack of attention and seeing my vulnerability, something she had not seen before and I didn't manage that as well as I could have.

Stairs are a major issue for people who have had hip or knee surgery, as getting up and down is difficult, tiring and a risk, due to falling. You only ever practice stairs once in hospital and they are not steep, they have a slip resistant surface, wide, with a hand rail on both sides. At home my stairs are steep narrow and only one hand rail. This along with the fact of a toilet upstairs and you do too many trips up and down which is draining.

I had loads of visitors on my return home which was great but extremely tiring, I would suggest people spread visitors out as otherwise you have all or nothing, which becomes a problem later in recovery.

I struggled in the evening as I had sat more today, had the travel home and the stress of the hospital morning and getting sorted out at home. Sleep is hard initially as for the first weeks, you have to sleep on your back which I don't do, and also it helps if are elevated with lots of pillows or cushions. Hospital beds do have some great features you miss, like the grab handles and adaptability.

Day 3

Getting up and initially moving was fine and felt great and positive. The treadmill of life starts with breakfast and the school run, which you cannot really help with and also its difficult to help yourself moving and carrying things are hard.

I stress to clients to do the mobility exercises I set them in the morning as its easier to make more of a habit and you do them more often. I went through the sheet I had been given from the hospital and added an additional five exercises. I went through the circuit 3 times doing 8 repetitions of each.

Stairs a lot today, as your body gets rid of the drugs it has had and the swelling starts on your hip and leg from the trauma of the surgery. At home you tend to sit more watch TV and chat in the lounge. This is great as it is resting but highlights two problems; firstly for hip operations you are sitting on a very swollen hip and back side and for knee operations your knee is usually bent and swelling. Both these situations are very uncomfortable and you must walk short distances frequently.

Rest and mobility balance is difficult initially but, I recommend at least an hour in bed mid-morning and mid-afternoon even if just lying down and reading it is more restful than sitting.

Mid Afternoon I had interX treatment over my whole hip area and leg down to my knee. Treatment is about an hour and half and helps immensely. The treatment works through the skin and stimulates the body to release pain endorphins to help with recovery. I had no medication post leaving the hospital on Tuesday and InterX was used exclusivity for pain relief.

Felt very tired early evening and went to bed early. I rested but found sleep difficult and only has short hour bursts. I also found I needed the toilet several times in the night which getting in and out of bed is difficult and feels painful as everything stretches. On the positive side everything was working so the medication from surgery was been flushed out.

Days 4, 5, 6 and7

You get into a routine quickly in this early rehabilitation phase, with getting up doing Rehabilitation exercises, walking around and doing some basic things like drink making, resting in bed a couple of times a day and having as session of interX therapy daily.

These initial days fly by and the swelling from my surgery is all down my leg along with bruising from the manipulation of my leg during the procedure. Washing is difficult, as with hip surgery you have to be very careful with bending and you have to keep your wound dressing dry, a challenge for the shower!

The Thrombosis socks are great; really tight, uncomfortable, itch and are very hard to get on. All the aids they give you and I had no chance of getting them on or off. Socks and shoes in general are hard but this is a whole other level. The only positive is that they keep your lower legs warm when walking outside and stop thrombosis and help with circulation obviously! I wore mine for 4 weeks 24 hours a day, they do help with circulation and swelling, so would advise to wear them.

It was cold and raining when I first came out of hospital so I was inside. On Sunday, 6 days post-surgery, I went for a short walk outside and it was great.


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About the author

Stephen Grinnell MSc Health and Rehabilitation
Pain and Physical Rehabilitation Specialist
Stephen has had his own Pain and Rehabilitation Clinic for 9 years where he has treated well over 1000 people with lots of different pain and injury issues. Stephen’s personal physical rehabilitation journey started with a serious injury while on active service with the Royal Marines 25 years ago. This injury resulted in a long journey of complementary rehabilitation and two replacement hips. Stephen has developed his own bespoke treatment protocols using a variety of medical devices to help pain and inflammation resulting in accelerated recovery. Specialist areas of focus are back pain issues and hip and knee replacement rehabilitation. Stephen previously had a successful academic career lecturing at a variety of Colleges and Universities in the Sports Science, Rehabilitation and Training areas. Stephen has also worked in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Physiotherapy department during the Covid 19 Pandemic helping the recovery of patients.

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