Hip Replacement Driving

During the first few weeks after a hip replacement driving is  definitely not recommended!

Be patient and wait until your surgeon has cleared you as fit to drive. How long that will take will depend on the type of medication you are on, the type of surgery you had and the strength of your operated leg. All these factors are discussed in an article called Driving after a hip replacement .

Here, we make the assumption that you've read up on that, been cleared to drive by your clinical team and are now ready to get behind the wheel.  So this page will focus on all the practical aspect, starting with the first thing, how to get in and out of your car without dislocating your new hip!

Preparation can start pre-op

Before your hip replacement driving is probably something you just took for granted but afterwards its going to be a struggle - at least for the first few weeks.

It is a good idea to consider the issues before your surgery and I'd strongly recommend practicing getting in and out of the car using the technique I describe below so it feels familiar.

You should check the correct seat adjustment taking into account the hip precautions given to you by your surgeon. This involves both height and distance from the steering wheel.

How to get in and out of a car

If you are going to be driving alone then it is essential that you can get in and out of the car without assistance: if you can't then be sure to take a passenger along with you.

Try to park off-road. Parking on road means that you will be standing in the road in front of traffic for longer than usual and, importantly longer than may be safe if the road is very busy.

  • Put your walking aids away safely but somewhere you can retrieve them without problems.
  • Put a plastic bag down on the seat
  • Stand with your back to the car and gently lower yourself down holding on to solid and stable bits of the car (not the door as it will close on you).
  • You must ensure that your operated leg doesn't break the rule of 90 (one of the fundamental hip precautions. i.e. don't let the angle between your body and your operated leg close to less than 90 degrees.
  • Shuffle back a little and lean back. Now swing both legs into the car and sit up. If you practiced before the operation your seat will be exactly at the right height and distance.
  • Once in the car check you can operate the pedals easily and comfortably. Practice moving your foot from the accelerator (gas) to the brake and back again. If you can't do this quickly then you aren't ready to drive. If you have a manual (stick shift) car then also practice using the clutch. If the clutch feels too heavy then don't drive.

To exit the car - place your walking aids somewhere you can reach them when you are standing up.

Then do the entrance procedure in reverse. Again don't hang onto the door to get out.

Hip replacement driving - other considerations

Start off driving for short distances preferably with a companion. Then gradually increase the length of the journey. Remember though that you will tire more easily so break up long journeys as much as you can.

Parking in a tight space is challenging as you will find it difficult to turn to look behind you. The best option is to avoid it. Try driving around the block to see if there's somewhere easier to park. But also make use of good parking mirrors and think about investing in a set of parking sensors if you haven't already got them.

After a hip replacement driving can seem a struggle but the freedom it gives you makes it worthwhile.

It's a great to be back on the road again.

Related Links: 

Preparing for Recovery 
Essential Equipment 
Waling Aids

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