How long does it take to walk normally after hip replacement surgery?

How long does it take to walk normally after hip replacement surgery? 1024 426 teamhri

Ann knew she wouldn’t be able to keep up with her husband on their daily walks if things became any worse. She already had to make him wait while she stopped — several times if they went far enough— to let the pain drain out of her hip and leg before she could continue. Hip pain may make it miserable, but it wasn’t going to stop her. Ann and her husband had always loved to walk. She had been an avid walker herself for thirty years. Four years earlier, before the hip pain became severe, they hiked every day on their own property in Southern Alberta, Canada. The nearest big town, Medicine Hat, has several fantastic hiking trails in its parks as well. The only thing Ann loved as much as hiking is horseback riding. Her hip felt fine when she was on the mount, but afterward the back, groin, and leg pain was awful. After four years of thinking about it, she knew that she had no alternative. If she wanted to keep walking with her husband and riding her horse, it was time for hip replacement surgery.


It’s no surprise that arthritis, or rarely dysplasia like Ann has, makes the hip hurt when you walk. The hip joint absorbs tremendous stress when in use. With every stride your hip bends forward, extends backward, moves from outside to in, and rotates internally. The force of walking is 2-3 times body weight. For jogging or running its more than five times body weight. Researchers have actually measured the pressure inside the hip joint at 144 psi while walking; compare that to the pressure inside your car tire which is 30 – 40 psi when driving. A nice video showing how the hip moves during walking or hiking is shown here:



One of the barriers to hip replacement surgery for anyone, and in particular people like Ann who live in small towns, is finding the right Surgeon. An orthopedic surgeon in nearby Medicine Hat correctly diagnosed that she was born with hip dysplasia. But he was not trained in the superPATH or anterior approaches that other fellowship trained orthopedic surgeons who specialize in minimally invasive hip replacement are doing to make the surgery less invasive, with a quicker recovery, and also a lower rate of dislocation. Ann saw an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona for a second opinion who discovered she had a spine problem as well. Hip dislocation is a rare complication of hip replacement surgery; but having a spinal problem in the background, and horseback riding as well, put Ann at higher risk of hip dislocation after hip replacement surgery. She needed a minimally invasive option for hip replacement surgery that lowered her chance of having a dislocation afterward.


Ann decided to have the superPATH procedure after meeting with Dr. James Chow in Phoenix. Traditional hip replacement requires the surgeon to dislocate your hip to expose the ball and socket. Many surgeons today believe that dislocating the hip during surgery is not only harmful, its unnecessary. Dr. Chow and his colleagues developed the superPATH technique to avoid dislocation during surgery and thereby minimize the risk of dislocation happening afterward. For more information about superPATH look at: superPATH Hip Surgery. Eager to get back on top of the horse, and out on hikes with her husband, Ann chose superPATH.


Ann walked into the Phoenix Spine and Joint surgery center in Scottsdale at nine AM, and she walked out five hours later at 2 PM with a new hip. The surgery took just over sixty minutes. The thing she was most worried about ahead of time was the spinal; a friend of hers having surgery for another reason had a fluid leak after a spinal anesthetic. But Anne’s worries turned out to be for naught. She had no complications of any kind, and no uncomfortable memory of the procedure. Her husband drove her about an hour to her winter home in Maricopa, AZ. Some neighbors came over to check on her later that afternoon. She recovered nicely in her own home with her husband, and even took care of her four-year-old grandson at the same time.


The amount of time it takes to walk after hip replacement surgery depends of the surgical approach and the type of facility in which the surgery is done. Patients who have superPATH, direct superior, or anterior hip replacement approach in an Ambulatory Surgery Center begin walking an hour after surgery; they no longer require a walker after 1-5 days; and it usually takes them 2-4 weeks to build up to walking a mile in 20 – 30 minutes. Patients who have traditional hip replacement surgery recover more slowly. Most are kept in their hospital bed the day of surgery and walk a few steps with a physical therapist the next day. Once they can walk independently, usually three to five days after surgery, legacy patients who have traditional surgery in the hospital are discharged home and begin their own convalescence. That usually requires a walker for 2 weeks, six weeks of physical therapy, and gradual recovery over six to twelve months.


Ann started walking around the house the same day as surgery. She used a walker they gave her at the surgery center for the first five days, after which she knew she didn’t need it. She gradually built up her walking time in the weeks after surgery to thirty minutes. One of the first things she noticed after surgery is the pain she had walking upstairs was gone.


Nine out of ten hip replacement surgeries are done for arthritis. Ann’s case was unusual in that she was born with a mal-formed hip. This condition is called hip dysplasia. In her case she had a large cyst which will require more bone healing than is typical. Recovery from hip replacement surgery is slower for patients like Ann, but she has made steady gains. She is excited to already be walking with her husband and expects to be back on her horse next spring.

Placeholder Image