Best Ways to Manage Hip Pain (Before Hip Replacement!)

Best Ways to Manage Hip Pain (Before Hip Replacement!)

If you’ve been told by your doctor that you need a hip replacement, you’ll know that the choice is not always so easy. Aside from having to take time off work and the activities you love, sometimes, the timing isn’t right. Some people are told to wait until their 60s so that the new hip will last the rest of their lives. Learning how to minimize pain while waiting for hip replacement surgery definitely requires some knowledge of your own body. 

Make sure it’s not another problem! 

Though there are many signs that you need a hip replacement, remember that chronic hip pain can point to other issues like bursitis, synovitis, tendonitis, myositis, a fracture, or even nerve damage. Always get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional before managing pain on your own. 

Make some small changes 

Before we jump into exercises and stretches that can be hard to handle, remember that small changes can actually take the pressure off quite a bit. Practicing these regularly is good for all joint problems, not just the hips: 

  • Practice good posture
  • Avoid sitting in low chairs that make it hard to get up
  • Try to get up and move at least every hour or so
  • Avoid high-impact activities like running. Consider getting a pair of our shock-absorbing insoles that will take some of the impact out of day-to-day life. 
  • Vitamin D and Calcium have been shown to help prevent and treat arthritis. Always talk to your doctor about taking supplements that support joint health.
  • NSAIDs like Ibuprofen help decrease inflammation. For some people, NSAIDs are dangerous, but other over-the-counter medicines like Acetaminophen are safe.
  • Use topical analgesics as directed 
  • Use an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Apply it every hour or as directed by your doctor. You’ll need to switch to heat at some point. 
  • Use a heating pad for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Apply it every two hours or as directed by your doctor. 
  • Consider using crutches or a walker 

Being consistent with these changes is the key to reducing your pain. If you find that these aren’t quite cutting it, there are a few more options you might want to go over with your doctor. 

  • Cortisone injections are effective at treating inflammation. There are some risks associated with them, too, so it’s generally better to use them sparingly. 

Exercises to target pain and prepare for surgery

Take your time with these stretches- they are designed to improve flexibility that your hips may not be used to. It’s not only good to know how to minimize pain while waiting for hip replacement surgery, but some of these exercises can actually prevent complications from the surgery itself:

  • Leg raises. Lie on your back with one foot flat on the floor. The other leg should be straightened out. Lift your straight leg about a foot high, hold for five seconds, then release and repeat five times for each leg. 

  • Backward leg raises. Start by facing a counter or table that you can hold onto. Shift all your weight onto one foot and straighten the other leg. Raise the straightened leg behind you about a foot off the floor. Hold for five seconds, release and repeat. 

  • Gluteal sets. While lying on a firm surface, squeeze your buttocks so that your hips rise a little bit. Hold it for five seconds, let go and repeat.

  • Quadriceps sets. While lying down on your back, place a thick, rolled towel under your knee. Push the back of your knee down into the towel so that your thigh muscles tighten up. Hold for five seconds, release and repeat. 

  • Heel slides. Lie on your back and slide your heel up to your buttocks or as close as possible. Hold for five seconds, slide back down and repeat. 

  • Seated hamstring stretch. While sitting on a chair, prop your foot up on a small stool so that your leg is fully straightened in front of you. With good posture, slowly lean forward at the hips so that you can feel the back of your leg stretch gently. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, relax and repeat. 

  • To get a better idea of how these stretches work and many other pre-op exercises, watch these super helpful tutorials. 

    Activities to avoid before surgery

    Staying active is incredibly important, but so is avoiding further injury. Avoid doing any of these until you get your new hip: 

    • Raising your knee over your hip 

    • Picking up anything from the floor while seated 

    • Reaching down to pull blankets over you while lying in bed 

    • Pointing your feet inward or outward when bending over 

    • Bending at the waist more than 90 degrees (like touching your toes)

    • Crossing your legs 

    Finding out how to minimize pain while waiting for hip replacement surgery requires a lot of patience, consistency and strengthening. It will all pay off in the end once you find that your recovery is much easier and faster than expected! 

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