How To Minimize Pain While Waiting For A Hip Replacement

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Hip replacement surgery can provide long-term relief for hip pain, but there is often a waiting period before going through the procedure itself.
  • When waiting for hip replacement surgery, pain and discomfort can affect your quality of life and make it difficult to engage in your regular daily activities.
  • Pain management strategies while waiting for a hip replacement include taking pain medications, starting a physical therapy regimen, and trying alternative therapies like hot or cold treatments.
  • Other lifestyle modifications for managing pain include healthy weight management, improving sleep hygiene, and building a network of emotional support.

For people who have tried almost everything to manage their hip pain, hip replacement surgery can bring long-term relief and improvements to mobility. Hip replacement surgery involves replacing the diseased part of a joint with a plastic or metal insert, targeting the root cause of joint pain to reduce discomfort and restore overall joint function.

That said, although hip replacement surgery will bring a major upgrade to your daily comfort and capability, you’re unlikely to schedule a procedure for the next day. Therefore, it’s important to know how to manage pain during the waiting period before your procedure.

Hip Replacement Waiting Period

Wait times for hip replacement surgeries can vary depending on factors like the type of procedure and the scheduling availability of the surgical center. Although wait times can vary, one study found that the mean average wait time was about five months. This time frame largely depended on patient pain levels.

It’s important to find an experienced surgeon with a track record of success so that you can trust them to communicate with you regarding the appropriate waiting period and develop a plan that fits your needs.

The downside of the waiting period is that it can place added stress and discomfort as you wait for your procedure, affecting your quality of life, especially if pain levels are high. 

Emotional and physical challenges during the waiting period include difficulty navigating daily activities, a lack of motivation, and emotional difficulty from experiencing consistent pain.

It’s important to stay active and maintain at least a low level of mobility and exercise during the waiting period. A long stint without activity can actually make pain worse—a lack of activity weakens the muscles around the hip and decreases the joint’s stability even further.

Pain Management Strategies

If you’re experiencing frequent or consistent hip pain, pain management strategies are crucial for adjusting to and navigating the pain. The following pain management strategies can take some of the burden off your joints and improve your ability to navigate day-to-day activities.

Pain Medication

Pain medication is one of the most common options for temporarily relieving pain. Medications can often help to reduce inflammation and sensitivity to pain during the waiting period.

You can either use pain medication found over the counter or those prescribed by your doctor. If you do use medication for pain management, it’s crucial that you only use the medication in-line with the instructions on the bottle or as directed by your doctor.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a regimen of light to moderate exercises and movements that help to build strength and flexibility in a joint. A physical therapy routine can help restore function to a joint so that patients can reduce pain and better navigate daily activities.

Physical therapy often includes:

  • Gentle range of motion exercises
  • Strengthening exercises to support and stabilize muscles
  • Flexibility exercises to improve mobility
  • Strategies for reducing pain and inflammation

Patients will often visit a physical therapist to receive guidance on what exercises to use and how to maintain proper form when performing them. From there, in most cases, they can begin to follow the regimen independently at home.

Alternative therapies

Alternative therapies are approaches to alleviating joint pain that don’t involve medication or regimented exercise routines. Alternative therapies often use natural methods to promote pain relief and improved comfort.

Options for alternative therapies include:

  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Massage therapy to alleviate muscle tension
  • Meditation/mindfulness/guided imagery exercises
  • Compression sleeves or clothing
  • Yoga exercises

Return to the Activities You Love

Our board-certified surgeons at The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale use the latest methods in hip surgery to provide you with the best possible outcome.

Lifestyle Modifications

Making thoughtful lifestyle modifications can go a long way toward helping you cope with the waiting period leading up to surgery. Adjusting your lifestyle can reduce some of the pressure placed on your hip and help you experience more comfort in the meantime.

Assistive Devices

Assistive devices can provide support to reduce the stress and load placed on the joint. By helping to take the weight off the hip, these devices can improve pain and make it easier to move around as you navigate your daily activities.

Examples of assistive devices that can help alleviate hip pain include canes, crutches, and walkers. To accommodate yourself and the use of assistive devices in the home:

  • Create plenty of space for maneuvering around the house with these devices
  • Place items in easy-to-reach locations
  • Ensure that all assistive devices are adjusted to your height and size for easy use
  • Talk to your provider about how to properly use these devices

Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight plays an important role in joint health, as doing so releases the load placed on your joints. Sometimes, losing weight is easier said than done, but it all starts with goal setting and accountability.

To help manage your weight, utilize the following strategies:

  • Consider a regimen of low-impact exercises to stay active and burn calories
  • Eat at a calorie deficit to avoid weight gain
  • Avoid foods and drinks with large amounts of added sugar
  • Set goals for a healthy weight to maintain

As you adapt your diet to support a healthy weight, you should also consider adding foods that promote joint health. For example, anti-inflammatory foods like berries, greens, and healthy fats can help reduce tension in the joints and minimize pain.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep has a vital role in recovering from injury and managing pain. Poor sleep hygiene can exacerbate pain symptoms, increase inflammation, and increase your body’s sensitivity to pain, all of which spell additional discomfort for an injured hip joint.

By improving the quality of your sleep, you can better manage your pain and promote the body’s recovery process to reduce discomfort.

To improve your sleep with hip pain, you can take some of the following steps:

  • Sleep on your back to keep your hips straight and even
  • If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to reduce pressure on the hip
  • Place a small pillow under your lower back or hips to provide relief
  • Wind down by avoiding phone or TV screens for 1-2 hours before bed
  • Create a comfortable, quiet, and dark sleeping environment

Emotional Support

Although the physical element of waiting for hip replacement is uncomfortable, the mental and emotional effects are not much better. The physical pain often leads to emotional stress, as the pain can be discouraging, defeating, and overshadow other parts of your day.

With strategies in place for emotional support, the discomfort during the waiting period becomes easier to cope with.

Some of your options include:

  • Building a network of family and friends to help support you during difficult moments
  • Seeing a therapist to discuss your emotions and healthy coping mechanisms
  • Using stress management methods like meditation
  • Making time for hobbies and activities you enjoy

Get Started on Your Path to Long-Term Pain Relief

A waiting period before hip surgery can offer mental and physical challenges as you cope with pain leading up to your surgery. Fortunately, incorporating the right pain management strategies and lifestyle adjustments can make managing pain easier as you wait for your hip replacement procedure.

The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale specializes in hip replacement surgery to help you find relief sooner. Our caring and compassionate team has a strong track record of success and will develop a treatment plan to help you find relief as soon as possible. We use state-of-the-art technology and advanced methods to bring lasting hip relief.

Schedule a consultation with us to learn more about our processes and start your path to more comfortable joints.