Immediately after hip replacement surgery, a patient is given a list of precautions—certain movements and activities that should be avoided in order to protect the new hip’s ball and socket from injury, particularly dislocation. Unlike other types of hip replacements, anterior hip replacements require few, if any, precautions.
For example, people who have traditional hip replacements are told not to bend at the hip more than 90 degrees for about 6 weeks. This precaution makes it challenging to sit on low chairs, sofas, or toilets. Anterior hip replacement patients do not have to follow this precaution.
Why Anterior Hip Patients Have Fewer Precautions
During anterior hip replacement surgery, the surgeon makes an incision at the front of the hip and does not need to cut any nearby muscles or other soft tissues. These soft tissues naturally support the hip joint, so keeping them intact reduces the risk of the new hip dislocating.
Other types of hip replacements (including anterior-lateral hip replacement) involve incisions at the side or back of the hip. The surgeon must cut soft tissue to access the hip joint and perform the hip replacement. After surgery, the cut soft tissue needs several weeks to heal. During this time the risk of dislocating the new hip is significantly increased.
Postsurgical Precautions Can Vary for Anterior Patients
Many surgeons believe the risk of dislocation after anterior hip replacement is so low that precautions are not necessary.1 These surgeons may tell patients to do whatever is comfortable. Other surgeons recommend a few precautions to their anterior hip patients, or recommend precautions on a case-by-case basis.
When precautions are recommended, they may be different, and sometimes even contrary, to the precautions for other types of hip replacements.2
Because there are no standard, universally agreed-upon precautions for anterior hip replacement, patients are advised to follow their surgeons’ and physical therapists’ instructions. These medical professionals are able to tailor post-surgical instructions to an individual patient’s needs.