What to Expect 2 Weeks After a Hip Replacement: Key Milestones and Tips

Undergoing a hip replacement can be a life-changing event for many individuals, leading to improved mobility and reduced pain. Within the first two weeks after the procedure, patients typically experience significant recovery progress. It is crucial to clearly understand what to expect during this initial stage of healing to prepare both physically and emotionally.

In the first two weeks following a full or partial hip replacement, a person should be able to move more easily without aid (Medical News Today). The recovery timeline may vary from person to person, depending on factors such as the individual’s pre-surgery activity levels, age, nutritional status, and overall health (Johns Hopkins Medicine). Early movement and physical therapy significantly promote a smooth recovery process and prevent complications (Mayo Clinic).

By the end of the second week, most patients can expect to see improvements in their mobility and begin to engage in normal activities at a limited capacity. However, it’s essential to follow the guidelines provided by healthcare professionals and maintain realistic expectations throughout the recovery period.

Recovery Process After a Total Hip Replacement

Incision Care

During the first two weeks after hip replacement surgery, taking proper care of the incision is important. The incision should be kept clean and dry, and following your surgeon’s guidelines for cleaning and dressing changes is essential. Avoid soaking the incision in water, such as in baths, as this can increase the risk of infection (Johns Hopkins Medicine).

Total Hip Replacement scar
Total Hip Replacement Scar

The incision is usually covered with a waterproof bandage for the first week and sometimes as long as 2 weeks after surgery. The waterproof bandage can get wet in the shower and provides a safe barrier to infection. You can still take a shower during this time, just don’t soak the hip and bandage directly in the water stream.

We recommend using a shower chair to make cleaning yourself without falling and taking a break from standing easier.

Managing Swelling

Swelling is a common issue during the initial recovery phase after a hip replacement. To alleviate swelling, it is recommended to:

  • Elevate the affected leg when resting
  • Apply ice to the swollen area
  • Wear compression stockings as advised by your surgeon

It’s also crucial to stay mobile during this period without overexerting yourself. Gentle walking and prescribed exercises can help reduce swelling and promote healing (Medical News Today).

Preventing Infection

Infection prevention is vital in the weeks following hip replacement surgery. Here are some steps to help minimize the risk of infection:

  • Clean the incision site as instructed by your surgeon
  • Avoid touching the incision with dirty hands
  • Notify your healthcare provider if you notice any signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, or pus discharge.

In addition, it is important to maintain a balanced diet with proper nutrition, as this can support your overall healing process and immune system (Healthline).

By focusing on proper incision care, managing swelling, and preventing infection during the first two weeks after a hip replacement, you can set yourself up for a successful recovery process.

Want to learn more about what to expect during the first week after a hip replacement?

Managing Pain Post Hip Replacement

How Much Pain is Expected at 2 Weeks

Two weeks after a hip replacement, patients can expect some level of pain and joint swelling as the body continues to heal. However, many people find that they can move more easily without aids like canes or walkers at this stage in their recovery process 1. Pain may be experienced when sitting or lying down for extended periods, and it is essential to stay active and participate in physical therapy in order to alleviate discomfort, improve mobility, and shorten recovery time 2.

Here are some tips to help manage pain and swelling during this period:

  • Movement is key. The more you move, the less the hip and muscles stiffen up
  • Rest between therapy sessions
  • Ice the leg and the incision site
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications (after consulting with your doctor) 3

Pain Medication

Pain medication is often prescribed to help manage pain after hip replacement surgery, and it is essential to follow the doctor’s instructions regarding dosage and timing. By the end of the 2 week mark from surgery, you may be able to wean off of the narcotic pain medication and use over-the-counter pain medication. Some common medications include:

  • Opioids are powerful pain relievers that may be prescribed for severe pain, but they should be used with caution due to their potential for addiction and side effects 4. Opioid medications may include oxycodone or hydrocodone.
  • Non-opioid pain relievers: These medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may be used to treat mild to moderate pain and can be helpful in reducing inflammation.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: These medications help reduce inflammation and can be beneficial in managing pain and swelling 5.

It is vital to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication, as certain drugs may interact with pain medications or have contraindications specific to the patient’s health.

Regularly monitoring and addressing pain as needed can help facilitate a smoother healing process during the critical two-week stage of hip replacement recovery.

Physical Therapy and Exercises

Starting Exercise Regimen

After a hip replacement, starting a suitable exercise regimen is crucial to help regain strength and mobility in the hip joint. Typically, patients begin working with a physical therapist while still in the hospital, continuing the therapy as needed in the following weeks. It is recommended that patients exercise for 20 to 30 minutes a day, or even 2 to 3 times daily during early recovery.

If your surgeon says that you don’t need physical therapy, ask for a referral anyways!

It’s much easier to stay ahead and cancel physical therapy appointments that aren’t needed instead of getting behind 6 weeks after surgery and trying to play catch up.

Some common exercises performed during the early stages of recovery include:

  • Ankle pumps: Gently move the foot up and down to increase circulation.
  • Quad sets: Tighten the thigh muscles while keeping the knee straight.
  • Straight leg raises: Strengthen hip flexor and quadriceps muscles by lying on the back with the non-surgical leg bent and lifting the surgical leg straight without bending the knee.
  • Clamshells: Lying on your side with your knee bent, rotate the top knee towards the ceiling and back down.
clamshell exercise
Clamshell Exercise

It is important to follow the guidance of the physical therapist and gradually progress to more challenging exercises tailored to the individual’s recovery and specific needs.

Using a Walker

During the first two weeks after hip replacement surgery, patients commonly use a walker to assist with mobility and stability. The walker helps to maintain a proper posture, reduce the amount of weight put on the newly operated hip, and prevent falls. Here are some tips on how to use a walker safely:

  1. Adjust the height of the walker, ensuring the handles are at wrist level when the arms are hanging down.
  2. Move the walker forward, keeping it close to the body while walking.
  3. Step with the surgical leg first, making sure the entire foot is flat on the ground before transferring weight onto it.
  4. Follow with the non-surgical leg, stepping slightly past the surgical leg.

During these initial stages of recovery, it is essential to maintain a consistent balance between exercising the hip and protecting the joint from injury. Patients should seek advice from healthcare professionals and follow their recommendations closely. By doing so, they can expect to gradually regain strength, range of motion, and overall function in their hip joint within the first few weeks after surgery.

Daily Activities 2 Weeks After a Hip Replacement

How Far Should You Be Walking

Two weeks after a hip replacement surgery, you should be experiencing increased confidence and independence in walking. At this stage, you may still need a walking aid such as a cane, walker, or crutches, but you should be able to gradually increase the distance covered each day. Remember to continue doing the exercises prescribed by your physical therapist to help with flexibility and muscle tone1.

Showering and Personal Care

Two weeks post-operation, you should be able to manage most of your personal care activities, such as washing, showering, and dressing independently. However, you might still experience some pain and stiffness in your hip, so it’s important to be patient and not overexert yourself2.

We do recommend getting and using a shower chair during the first 2 weeks after a hip replacement. This makes sure that you don’t break hip surgical precautions while showering and gives you a break from standing during the first few days of recovery.

We recommend the Dr. Kays Adjustable Shower chair because it’s sturdy, lightweight, and adjustable.

Returning to Work

When it comes to returning to work, the timeline may vary depending on the nature of your job. If you have a desk job with minimal activity, you might be able to return to work after about two weeks. For jobs requiring heavy lifting or being tough on the hips, it is recommended to take around six weeks off to recover3.


As for driving, the decision to return should be based on your comfort level and mobility. It’s crucial to discuss your driving abilities with your doctor and physical therapist before getting behind the wheel. Make sure you can safely operate the vehicle and reach all necessary controls without causing pain or discomfort4.


  1. Activities After Total Hip Replacement – OrthoInfo – AAOS
  2. Week Two – After Hip Replacement Surgery – totalhips.com
  3. Hip Replacement Recovery Q&A | Johns Hopkins Medicine
  4. Hip Replacement Recovery: Timeline and Tips for Best Outcome – Healthline

Potential Complications After a Hip Replacement

Blood Clots

One potential complication after hip replacement surgery is the increased risk of developing blood clots in the legs. To prevent this complication, it is important for patients to start moving as soon as possible after the surgery. They will be encouraged to sit up and walk with the help of crutches or a walker soon after the procedure 1. Other methods to prevent blood clots include:

  • Taking prescribed blood-thinning medication
  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Performing ankle pump exercises

Nerve Damage

Another potential complication is nerve damage, which may occur during the surgery. This risk can manifest in several ways, such as:

  • Numbness around the incision site
  • Difficulty moving the affected leg
  • Persistent pain

While nerve damage is a rare occurrence, it is essential for patients to be aware of this risk and report any unusual symptoms to their healthcare team. Monitoring the recovery and following the prescribed rehabilitation exercises can help in minimizing the risk of nerve damage during the healing process 2.

In conclusion, being informed about potential complications such as blood clots and nerve damage can help patients take necessary precautions and work closely with their healthcare team during the recovery process.


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hip-replacement/about/pac-20385042
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/hip-replacement-recovery-qa

Timeline of Recovery

Short-term Milestones

During the first two weeks after a hip replacement, patients can expect to see some key short-term milestones in their recovery. Initially, patients will work with a physical therapist to regain strength and mobility in the affected area [1]. Some recovery milestones within this period include:

  • Standing and walking with assistance, typically within the first 24-48 hours after surgery
  • Transitioning to walking with crutches or a walker
  • Gradually increasing mobility and range of motion
  • Managing pain and swelling through medication and ice
  • Decreasing the use of narcotic pain medication
  • Sleep longer before waking up each night

It’s important to note that individual recovery times can vary depending on factors such as age, preexisting health conditions, and level of activity prior to surgery [2].

Full Recovery After a Hip Replacement

While short-term milestones are crucial for a successful recovery, achieving a full recovery usually takes longer. Many patients experience significant improvements around three months after surgery, but it’s not uncommon for the full recovery process to take up to a year or more [3].

During this time, patients should continue attending physical therapy sessions and perform exercises at home to promote healing and increase mobility. Regular walking and gradually resuming daily activities are essential for a successful outcome, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and monitoring the healing process with medical professionals [4].

In summary, the timeline of recovery after a hip replacement includes short-term milestones, such as regaining mobility and managing pain, as well as ongoing efforts to achieve full recovery over a longer period of time. Each patient’s recovery process will be unique, and a clear communication line with healthcare providers is necessary for a successful outcome.


Patients can expect gradual improvements in the two weeks following a hip replacement surgery as their body adjusts to the new joint. Mobility and independence will steadily increase, and pain levels should decrease over time as they engage in physical therapy and follow their doctor’s advice. To get a clear idea of the recovery process, it’s helpful to break it down into the key aspects.

Physical Therapy

During the first two weeks, patients should engage in regular physical therapy sessions. This will help them regain strength, balance, and flexibility, thereby making day-to-day tasks easier to perform. They might start with simple exercises, such as ankle pumps or leg slides, before progressing to more challenging activities like walking with support. It’s essential to follow the therapist’s recommendations and be patient with the process, as full recovery may take several weeks or even months.

Pain Management

Pain levels should gradually decrease as the body heals. Initially, some discomfort may occur, but it should subside over time, reaching a low level within 12 weeks after surgery. If pain persists or intensifies, patients should consult their doctor, as this could be a sign of infection or other complications, as mentioned by Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Mobility and Independence

According to Medical News Today, patients are expected to move about more easily and without aid within the first two weeks. Those who previously required a cane or walker might now find themselves walking short distances with little to no assistance. By the end of the second week, many patients will have been discharged from the hospital and can perform most of their normal activities, as highlighted by Healthline.

As time progresses, the patient’s ability to perform daily tasks will continue to improve. Maintaining open communication with the healthcare team and engaging in physical therapy is crucial to ensure optimal recovery outcomes during this period. A proactive and committed approach to healing will likely result in a smoother and more rewarding hip replacement experience.

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