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Hip precautions


What are hip precautions?

Hip precautions are positions and movements that should be avoided after hip surgery.

A physical therapist or physical therapist assistant will teach your child hip precautions and exercises to strengthen the hip. This staff member will also show your child how to walk with a walker or crutches.

An occupational therapist, physical therapist, or physical therapist assistant will teach your child how to use equipment that will help with everyday activities as needed to make sure the hip is protected.

hip joint

Hip Joint

When are hip precautions needed?

Hip precautions are needed when your child has undergone surgery to repair or replace the hip joint.

The two main parts that make up the hip joint are the ball (femoral head) and the socket (acetabulum). The ball at the top of the thighbone fits into a rounded socket in the pelvis.

Risks for dislocating hip after surgery

In a normal moving hip joint, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and fluid (produced by the lining of the hip joint) provide a stable, smooth-moving hip joint. When any part of the hip joint is not working correctly your child is at risk for dislocating his hip.

The muscles that surround the hip joint include the buttock on the back and the upper thigh muscles on the front. These muscles and ligaments are weakened when they are cut during surgery. This puts your child at risk for dislocating the hip.

Until muscles heal and are strong again, there is a risk for the ball section of the joint to push out of the socket causing hip dislocation.

hip abduction pillow

How to protect and prevent injury to your child's new hip

While in bed, your child should use the hip abduction pillow right away after surgery and for six weeks following surgery. This pillow keeps your child’s hip in the proper position.

elevated toilet

When doing everyday activities, your child should use equipment—reachers, long handled sponges, elevated toilet seats—to prevent excessive reaching, bending, and twisting.

Your child should follow the doctor’s guidelines by only putting the amount of weight on the leg that the doctor says to put on it.

Hip precautions

There are 2 kinds of hip precautions: Standard (six weeks) and Extreme (lifetime).

Standard hip precautions usually are recommended by your child’s doctor for 6 weeks right after surgery. They limit bending past 90 degrees, twisting, rotating, and turning your toes in at the hip joint when sitting, standing, or lying down.

Extreme hip precautions also begin right after surgery, but they last a lifetime. They usually include any activity that results in extreme bending, twisting, rotating, and turning your toes in at the hip joint when sitting, standing, or lying down.

Your child should not raise the leg past 90 degrees when lying down in bed or sitting up.

more than 90 degrees
90 degrees

Your child should not let the knee of the operated leg cross the midline of his body.

hip position

Your child should avoid excessive bending.


Suggested activities to begin six weeks after surgery

Be creative when selecting your activities. Some ideas are:

  • Dancing, 
  • Swimming,
  • Playing miniature golf,
  • Walking, and
  • Playing musical instruments.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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