Question:My father had a total hip replacement three weeks ago. He says he's ready to drive again and the doctor has approved it. We're very concerned. How can you tell when someone is really ready to drive after a hip replacement?
This is a question many younger family members face as older family members have major surgery such as a joint replacement. The decision is based on many factors. Did the person have a safe driving record before the surgery? Is he taking any narcotics? Anyone taking narcotic pain relievers should not drive.
What type of total hip replacement (THR) did your father have? The standard THR with a full incision usually requires four to eight weeks rehab and recovery before driving. Some patients must wait up to three months.
The newer, minimally invasive operation has a much shorter recovery time. Patients have been reported driving within six days of the operation. In this case, the use of narcotic medication is the only thing holding patients back from driving earlier.Richard A. Berger, MD, et al. Rapid Rehabilitation and Recovery with Minimally Invasive Total Hip Arthroplasty. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. December 2004. Vol. 429. Pp. 239-247.
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