A patient can drive after a hip replacement once he no longer needs narcotics for pain and has normal reflexes and strength in the affected leg, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The physician and patient collaborate to determine when it is safe to drive again.
Several steps reduce the amount of time it takes for a patient to recover fully from a hip replacement, advises the AAOS. Installing assistive accessories, such as an elevated toilet seat, a gripping bar for the bathtub and a chair for the shower, minimizes the stress on the hip during initial recovery. Keeping the incision area dry and clean and changing the dressing on the incision regularly minimize the chance of infection. Following the doctor's instructions with regard to therapeutic exercises strengthens the leg and assimilates the replacement joint effectively.
Returning to a normal diet as soon as possible after returning home is also an important part of recovery. Managing portions and food choices to limit weight increases helps to keep additional stress off the new joint. Taken together, these steps reduce the amount of recovery time needed before the patient has the strength and focus necessary to operate a car safely, according to the AAOS.