Post Op Rehabilitation

Protecting your joint

Important things to remember in the first six weeks after your surgery which the physiotherapist and nursing staff will educate you about…

Hip Replacement

  • Hip replacements have particular precautions in relation to positioning after surgery
  • You should not flex your hip more than 90 degrees in the first six weeks – this allows the muscles around your hip to repair and strengthen
  • Always use chairs that are at knee height or higher to allow you to get up easily
  • Aim to keep your knees apart when bending to reach between your knees rather than reaching to the outside of your leg

Sleeping position for hip replacement patients

In the first six weeks following hip replacement it is advised that you sleep on your back as this reduces the risk of dislocation. However, if you are uncomfortable in this position you may sleep with a pillow between your legs.

TED stockings

Wearing anti-embolic stockings helps reduce the risk of deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Swelling is also an issue after surgery and the stockings will help to decrease the swelling in your lower legs. The stockings are recommended to be worn until you are mobilising comfortably and any swelling you have experienced has subsided. If you have any concerns regarding your stockings, please contact the nurse at our practice and they will be happy to discuss this issue.

Wound Care

On discharge from hospital your wound will have a waterproof dressing placed on it. This remains intact for two weeks from the surgery date. Sutures are usually dissolving, and do not require removal. If you have any concerns about your wound or if you feel unwell, you should contact your family doctor or the nurse consultant at our rooms.

Hydrotherapy is an excellent way to exercise your new joint without putting undue stress on your body. It is recommended that you wait until your wound is completely healed before you commence hydrotherapy.

Post-operative rehabilitation program

Rehabilitation is a treatment method designed to facilitate recovery after a serious injury, illness or surgery. It is aimed at restoring the physical, psychological and social function of patients.

The goal of a rehabilitation program varies depending on your needs but is aimed at achieving a quick recovery. These programs assist the patient to return to normal life through therapy or training.

The most common and immediate treatment modality that provides relief from pain is the RICE treatment comprised of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The RICE treatment is used for acute injuries such as sprains, strains, bruises, and contusions. Crutches, splints, or wheelchairs are used as immobilizers to provide support and prevent movement of injured joints. A rehabilitation program often includes stretching and bending exercises, massage, stability exercises, physiotherapy, heat therapy and much more.

Various techniques employed in a rehabilitation program have significance of their own in improving physical performance and restoring you to normal activities.

  • Stretching and bending exercises improve flexibility of the muscles at the injured site
  • Massage techniques relieve the tension of the muscles and improves the blood flow to the site of injury
  • Stability exercises restore the functions and movements of broken or injured joints

Practicing several measures may help you obtain better results from the rehabilitation program

  • Gradually increase the time and intensity on exercises
  • Exercise and walk regularly
  • Choose correct footwear
  • Do not work out on an empty stomach and drink plenty of water before exercise

You need to move your joint after surgery so it is a good idea to participate in a rehabilitation program.

After your hospitalisation you have a few options.

Rehabilitation hospital

  • this involves transferring from hospital to a rehabilitation hospital for a couple of weeks prior to going home
  • this may suit older patients and those who do not feel confident going home immediately following their hospital stay

Fast Track Rehabilitation

  • The Mater Hospital offers an in hospital rehabilitation program for those who mobilise early and progress quickly
  • This usually suits younger, fitter patients

Outpatient rehabilitation

  • This is offered to patients who have had surgery at the Mater Hospital
  • You will stay at home and a bus will collect you and take you to the Mater Hospital for your rehabilitation program
Manage your own rehabilitation at home

  • in this case you will want to have help around you and you should engage a physiotherapist to assist you with your rehabilitation

Concord Hospital

  • patients operated at Concord Hospital have access to rehabilitation programs through the hospital

  • if required, these are managed by the Concord Hospital and Area Health Network rehabilitation teams


You should refrain from driving for at least six weeks following your joint replacement. When you get to the six-week mark, think about the possibility that a pedestrian could run in front of your vehicle. Would you be able to stop in time? If you feel you could not react quickly enough, wait a little longer. Always start driving on a quiet street or parking area, to regain confidence controlling the vehicle.


Domestic flights can be taken approximately three weeks following your surgery. Due to the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) international flights are not recommended for three months after surgery. Security at airports will do their own checks to confirm joint replacement. You do not require any formal documentation.

Sporting activities

Gentle exercise such as walking is recommended in the six weeks following your surgery. Most patients return to other sporting activities, such as golf, approximately 2-3 months after surgery. If you have any questions about what sport to return to and whether it is safe to do so, please contact our rooms.

Follow up appointments

Your first visit will be usually be scheduled 10 days after minor procedures such as arthroscopy. For joint replacement patients, post-operative visits will usually occur at six weeks following surgery. Dr Zicat’s practice nurse will call you once you are home to check on your progress and make the follow up appointment.

Joint replacements are mechanical devices and it is recommended that they be followed up with x-rays at 6 months, 2 years, then every 5 years after this.

  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Australian Orthopaedic Association
  • Australian Institute of Musculo Skeletal Research
  • Arthroplasty Society Australia