Anterior Hip Replacement Surgery: Week by Week Recovery

Recovery from anterior total hip replacement surgery is a transformative journey, offering the promise of restored mobility and a life less hindered by hip pain and limitations. This carefully structured week-by-week recovery plan serves as a roadmap, guiding individuals through the critical phases of their rehabilitation process. From the initial days post-surgery to the long-term maintenance of a healthy hip joint, this plan outlines the steps, precautions, and milestones involved in achieving a successful and sustainable recovery. Each week brings its own set of challenges and achievements, and by adhering to the guidance provided, individuals can optimise their chances of regaining an active and pain-free lifestyle.

It is important to consult your orthopedic surgeon and their team closely throughout the period of recovery, as they tend to have a favoured rehabilitation protocol which they will follow. This can differ depending on the surgical procedure you undergo. This will also have an effect on your recovery time however it is vital you concentrate on the bigger picture, where you will hopefully experience less pain and an improved quality of life where you can note a full recovery and resume your normal activities in as little as 12 weeks following your total hip replacement surgery.


Anterior Hip Replacement Surgery

A total anterior hip replacement, also known as an anterior hip arthroplasty, is a type of hip surgery designed to replace a damaged or deteriorated hip joint with an artificial implant, or prosthesis. This procedure is performed through the front (anterior) of the hip, as opposed to the more traditional posterior or lateral approaches. The anterior approach offers some distinct advantages and is increasingly popular among both patients and surgeons.


How to prepare for your anterior hip replacement surgery

Preparing for your anterior hip replacement surgery involves both physical and logistical considerations. First and foremost, consult extensively with your orthopedic surgeon to understand the procedure and address any concerns. Prior to the surgery, maintain a healthy lifestyle by staying physically active and adhering to any recommended exercises that can improve your strength and flexibility. Follow your surgeon's preoperative instructions, which may include discontinuing certain medications, such as blood thinners, and fasting the night before the surgery. Arrange for transportation to and from the hospital, as well as for post-operative care and support at home. Create a comfortable recovery space at home with necessary items within easy reach, such as pillows, ice packs, and assistive devices like crutches or a walker.


Here's a thorough explanation of what a hip joint replacement surgery involves:

1. Indications for Surgery: Total hip replacement is typically recommended for individuals who suffer from chronic hip pain and functional limitations due to conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, avascular necrosis, or hip fractures that cannot be adequately managed with conservative treatments.

2. Preoperative Evaluation: Before the surgery, the patient undergoes a thorough evaluation, which includes medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies such as X-rays and MRI scans. This assessment helps the surgeon determine the suitability of the patient for the procedure and plan the surgical approach.

3. Anesthesia: During the procedure, the patient is placed under general anesthesia or regional anesthesia, such as a spinal or epidural block. The choice of anesthesia is typically made based on the patient's health and preferences.

4. Incision and Access: In an anterior hip replacement, the hip surgeon makes a small incision at the front of the hip, typically about 3 to 4 inches in length. This approach allows access to the hip joint without cutting through major muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Preserving these soft tissues can lead to a potentially quicker recovery and reduced postoperative pain.

5. Hip Joint Exposure: Once the incision is made, the surgeon gently moves aside the muscles and other tissues to access the hip joint. The anterior approach provides direct access to the joint capsule without having to detach or disturb major muscle groups.

6. Removal of Damaged Tissues: The damaged or arthritic hip joint components, including the femoral head (the ball-shaped top of the thigh bone) and the acetabulum (the socket in the pelvis), are removed. Any damaged cartilage is also cleaned out.

7. Implant Placement: The surgeon then inserts prosthetic components into the prepared areas. These components typically consist of a metal or ceramic ball (femoral head) attached to a stem that is anchored into the femur and a socket (acetabular cup) implanted into the pelvis. The prosthetic components may be secured with bone cement or press-fit techniques, depending on the specific implant and patient factors.

8. Joint Stability and Range of Motion: The surgeon ensures that the hip joint is stable, and the leg length is appropriate. The range of motion is assessed, and any necessary adjustments are made to optimize hip function.

9. Closure and Recovery: After confirming the proper placement and function of the prosthesis, the surgeon closes the incision, often using absorbable sutures or staples. A sterile dressing is applied over the surgical wound.

10. Postoperative Care: Following surgery, the patient is moved to the recovery area, where vital signs are monitored. Physical therapy begins soon after surgery to promote mobility, strength, and proper gait patterns. You may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications to help pain and aid recovery as well as being given compression stockings to promote circulation while you are less mobile.

11. Postoperative Benefits: The anterior approach often results in a shorter hospital stay, reduced pain, and a potentially faster recovery compared to traditional approaches. Patients may experience less muscle damage and have a reduced risk of hip dislocation.

12. Long-Term Outcomes: Most patients can expect significant joint pain relief and improved hip function after a total anterior hip replacement. The artificial hip joint can last for many years, providing an improved quality of life and increased mobility.

It's essential to note that the success of a total anterior hip replacement surgery depends on various factors, including the patient's overall health, adherence to postoperative instructions, and rehabilitation efforts. Patients should work closely with their surgical team to achieve the best possible outcome and maintain the longevity of their artificial hip joint.


Week by Week Recovery from a Hip Replacement

The recovery journey following an anterior hip replacement is a path to renewed mobility and freedom from the constraints of hip pain and dysfunction. This week-by-week recovery overview is designed to offer insight and guidance to individuals embarking on this transformative process. From the immediate post-surgery period, marked by careful incision care and gentle exercises, to the long-term maintenance of a robust and pain-free hip joint, each week brings its own set of milestones and challenges. By following this structured plan, patients can better understand what to anticipate throughout their recovery and take proactive steps toward regaining an active and fulfilling lifestyle.


Week 1: Immediate Post-Surgery

  1. Hospital Stay: You'll likely spend a few days in the hospital, where the medical team will monitor your condition and manage pain while the healing process begins.

  2. Physical Therapy: Begin gentle exercises and range-of-motion activities with the guidance of a physical therapist.

  3. Pain Management: Continue pain medications as prescribed, and follow your surgeon's instructions for managing pain at home.

  4. Assistive Devices: Use a walker or crutches for mobility. Gradually transition to a cane if advised by your physical therapist.

  5. Home Environment: Prepare your home for recovery by removing obstacles and creating a safe, easily accessible space.

Week 2-3: Early Recovery

  1. Physical Therapy: Continue with formal physical therapy sessions and home exercises as recommended. Focus on regaining strength, flexibility, and mobility.

  2. Weight-Bearing: Follow your orthopaedic surgeon's instructions on weight-bearing restrictions. You may gradually increase weight on the operated leg and begin walking a short distance. Your physical therapist may help you with gait training too.

  3. Pain Management: Begin tapering off pain medications as pain decreases and as advised by your surgeon.

  4. Incision Care: Keep your incision clean and dry. Watch for any signs of infection or complications.

Week 4-6: Mid-Recovery

  1. Physical Therapy: Continue physical therapy exercises and stretches. Work on balance and stability.

  2. Return to Daily Activities: Start to reintegrate into daily routines and activities of daily living such as light housework and driving (if approved by your surgeon).

  3. Strength Training: Begin low-impact strength training exercises for the hip and surrounding muscles.

  4. Follow-Up Appointment: Attend your follow-up appointment with your surgeon for an assessment and X-rays to ensure proper healing.

Week 7-12: Advanced Recovery

  1. Physical Therapy: Continue with advanced exercises, focusing on increasing strength and range of motion.

  2. Gradual Resumption of Activities: Slowly reintroduce more strenuous activities, such as walking longer distances, swimming, or cycling.

  3. Return to Work: Depending on your occupation and recovery progress, you may return to work during this period.

  4. Pain Management: Continue to monitor and manage any residual pain or discomfort with your surgeon's guidance.

Week 13 and Beyond: Long-Term Recovery

  1. Physical Conditioning: Maintain a regular exercise routine that includes hip-strengthening exercises and low-impact activities.

  2. Lifestyle Modifications: Make necessary lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding high-impact activities that could strain the hip joint.

  3. Long-Term Follow-Up: Continue periodic follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your hip's health.

  4. Pain Management: If you experience chronic pain or discomfort, consult with your surgeon for further evaluation and management.

Remember that every individual's recovery timeline is unique, and it's crucial to follow your surgeon's specific instructions and recommendations. Be patient with yourself and allow your body the time it needs to heal fully. Consult your healthcare team if you have any concerns or questions during your recovery process.


In conclusion, the recovery from an anterior hip replacement is a multifaceted journey that demands patience, dedication, and collaboration between patients, healthcare providers, and physical therapists. This surgical procedure, performed through the front of the hip, offers several advantages, including potentially shorter hospital stays, reduced pain, and a faster return to mobility compared to traditional approaches. However, it's important to recognize that successful recovery is a gradual process that unfolds over several weeks and even months.

The initial postoperative period involves adapting to the surgical changes, managing pain, and gradually reintroducing mobility. Physical therapy plays a pivotal role in helping patients regain strength, flexibility, and balance. As the weeks progress, individuals can expect to resume their daily activities, gradually return to work, and even engage in low-impact exercises. The ultimate goal is to achieve a pain-free, active lifestyle that may have been limited by hip joint issues prior to surgery.

Long-term success hinges on consistent follow-up appointments with the surgical team, maintenance of a healthy weight, and ongoing physical conditioning. With proper care and adherence to postoperative guidelines, many patients can enjoy the benefits of their artificial hip joint for years, if not decades.

It's important to remember that each patient's recovery is unique, and individual factors can influence the pace and outcomes of the rehabilitation process. While anterior hip replacement offers many advantages, it's essential for patients to work closely with their healthcare providers to address any concerns, monitor their progress, and make necessary adjustments to ensure a successful and sustainable recovery. By embracing the journey and committing to the prescribed rehabilitation plan, patients can look forward to a life with improved mobility, reduced pain, and an enhanced overall quality of life.

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Arun Gray sports therapist strength and conditioning coach skegness

The author

Arun Gray is a sports therapist and strength & conditioning coach with over 15 years experience in the industry. He also has a personal history with chronic shoulder and back pain along with a range of other sporting injuries.

Arun writes about common injuries and aims to help people understand and manage their pain to prevent having to rely on national healthcare.

Read more about Arun