What kind of mobility can I expect with an antibiotic spacer in my hip

Posted by mrfish @mrfish, Nov 3, 2017

About 11 months ago, I had a total (right) hip replacement. No injuries led me to the decision to undergo that, just arthritic pain that had become gradually worse over 20+ years. Several months after the surgery, I developed an infection at the joint but it took a while to get that properly diagnosed. So, in less than two weeks I’ll undergo the first of the two surgeries/stages to elminate the infection and replace the implant. I’ve read that the antibiotic spacer I’ll have for 2-3 months will provide “limited mobility” but I’m struggling with what that really means. I’d apperciate any further information I can get from others who have undergone this same procedure. I expect 2-3 days of hospitalization following the surgery and IV antibiotic infusions several times a day (self-administered).

I’m an (otherwise) healthy 48yo male and I was very happy with how quickly I was able to bounce back from the original hip replacment. I’m sure there will be a week or so of recovery from the surgery itself — but after that am I going to be mostly home-bound for the interim, or is driving myself and working in an office setting (on a limited schedule) a possibility? What other aspects are there to living for a with a hip spacer?

Thank you in advance for your help on this,
Art in Alaska.

@janelaine

I am scheduled for this surgery on Tuesday of this week. I have a fungal infection but won’t know about a bacterial infectiion until they do the culture following implant of the spacer. I am told there is to be no weight-bearing on my right leg which means I will be confined to a wheelchair or walker or crutches. I’ve tried hopping around on a walker with one foot and find it very challenging. I am 78 yo. If you are fortunate enough to get rid of the infection in the first go round, I’d be doing the happy dance for you (yes, on one foot!) I would like to see that outcome for myself but don’t want to get my hopes up.

I learned on Friday that I will not be doing PT following the surgery. Maybe down the road but don’t know yet. I will be in a rehab center for what I hope is a short amount of time. Also been practicing pivoting on my good leg to chairs, the toilet, etc. and then lifting myself up on one leg. I like to think my body is developing a cell memory that will help make the transition easier. I have a regular wheelchair and a friend gave me a motorized wheelchair. I’ve used a cabulance to take me to appointments but will try getting into the car unless the pain is too much.

I have a supportive family and have done all the work to prepare myself physically, emotionally and spiritually at the recommendation of my surgeon who incidentally took some of his training at the Mayo Clinic. I will check in asap after the surgery.

Good luck to you.

Jan in Washington State

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What a small world. Thanks for sharing. I have felt very alone with this condition (Septic Arthritis) so hearing from others is a godsend.
What are active care leg cuffs? We got a sliding seat that I use for showers. I have a raised toilet seat and a bedside commode. I asked my doctor several times what to expect after surgery but he didn’t give me any info. I’m a planner so it has been frustrating not having enough information. Good luck to you, @mrfish. As soon as I’m able, I will be checking back in. I’m all set up with lots of things to help keep my mind occupied during the recovery period.

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@janelaine

I am scheduled for this surgery on Tuesday of this week. I have a fungal infection but won’t know about a bacterial infectiion until they do the culture following implant of the spacer. I am told there is to be no weight-bearing on my right leg which means I will be confined to a wheelchair or walker or crutches. I’ve tried hopping around on a walker with one foot and find it very challenging. I am 78 yo. If you are fortunate enough to get rid of the infection in the first go round, I’d be doing the happy dance for you (yes, on one foot!) I would like to see that outcome for myself but don’t want to get my hopes up.

I learned on Friday that I will not be doing PT following the surgery. Maybe down the road but don’t know yet. I will be in a rehab center for what I hope is a short amount of time. Also been practicing pivoting on my good leg to chairs, the toilet, etc. and then lifting myself up on one leg. I like to think my body is developing a cell memory that will help make the transition easier. I have a regular wheelchair and a friend gave me a motorized wheelchair. I’ve used a cabulance to take me to appointments but will try getting into the car unless the pain is too much.

I have a supportive family and have done all the work to prepare myself physically, emotionally and spiritually at the recommendation of my surgeon who incidentally took some of his training at the Mayo Clinic. I will check in asap after the surgery.

Good luck to you.

Jan in Washington State

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@janelaine Best of luck to you!! You sound very prepared which will make the actual surgery recovery much easier on you! I’ve had a few spacers over the past 12 yrs and they aren’t as bad as they sound. I wish you all the best and will be praying everything goes smoothly! Keep us updated!
Lindsay from Missouri

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@jamienolson

Best of luck to you, Jan (@janelaine)! You sound strong and ready for this challenge. I have two family members that have had this same procedure done and both of them had a flawless outcome. I’m wishing the same for you! Being physically and mentally prepared was a huge help to them and it sounds like you are on that same track- good for you!

Here were a few more tips I found that will hopefully aid you in a smooth transition post operatively.
•Arrange to have a friend or relative prepare some meals for you
•Place everyday items at waist level, so you can avoid having to bend down or reach up
•Consider making some modifications to your home, such as getting a raised toilet seat if you have an usually low toilet

I’ll be checking back on you!
Please let us know along the way 1) how you are feeling and 2) if you feel up to it- try to document any tips or tricks you have found useful that can be shared with the community. 🙂

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Thanks for the tips and encouragement. I am blessed with a supportive husband and daughters who are cheering me on and doing as much as possible to make life easier. I do not intend to be a couch potato – I have one good leg, a motorized wheelchair for outings. I will definitely pass along any tips or tricks I discover and welcome the same from others. My sister-in-law will be here for a few days to help out when I come home. She is a terrific cook.

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@janelaine

I am scheduled for this surgery on Tuesday of this week. I have a fungal infection but won’t know about a bacterial infectiion until they do the culture following implant of the spacer. I am told there is to be no weight-bearing on my right leg which means I will be confined to a wheelchair or walker or crutches. I’ve tried hopping around on a walker with one foot and find it very challenging. I am 78 yo. If you are fortunate enough to get rid of the infection in the first go round, I’d be doing the happy dance for you (yes, on one foot!) I would like to see that outcome for myself but don’t want to get my hopes up.

I learned on Friday that I will not be doing PT following the surgery. Maybe down the road but don’t know yet. I will be in a rehab center for what I hope is a short amount of time. Also been practicing pivoting on my good leg to chairs, the toilet, etc. and then lifting myself up on one leg. I like to think my body is developing a cell memory that will help make the transition easier. I have a regular wheelchair and a friend gave me a motorized wheelchair. I’ve used a cabulance to take me to appointments but will try getting into the car unless the pain is too much.

I have a supportive family and have done all the work to prepare myself physically, emotionally and spiritually at the recommendation of my surgeon who incidentally took some of his training at the Mayo Clinic. I will check in asap after the surgery.

Good luck to you.

Jan in Washington State

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@janelaine yes I almost forgot the commode!!! Definitely a must if your bathroom is far away from your bed or isn’t handicap accessible.
These forums truly are a Godsend! Hearing of others with the same issues as myself makes me feel less lonely on this Hip journey. I’m only 35 but have been through 5 hip replacements and 3 spacers due to staph infection so if I can be of any help please let me know!
Lindsay

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@janelaine
Family support is HUGE!! I am also blessed with an amazing family and without their help over the years I would have spent a LOT of time in rehab facilities. I don’t think a lot of people realize how much help one requires after these surgeries …. Glad you will have a good cook around too!! Cause protein is #1 and promotes so much healing!!
Lindsay

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@janelaine

I am scheduled for this surgery on Tuesday of this week. I have a fungal infection but won’t know about a bacterial infectiion until they do the culture following implant of the spacer. I am told there is to be no weight-bearing on my right leg which means I will be confined to a wheelchair or walker or crutches. I’ve tried hopping around on a walker with one foot and find it very challenging. I am 78 yo. If you are fortunate enough to get rid of the infection in the first go round, I’d be doing the happy dance for you (yes, on one foot!) I would like to see that outcome for myself but don’t want to get my hopes up.

I learned on Friday that I will not be doing PT following the surgery. Maybe down the road but don’t know yet. I will be in a rehab center for what I hope is a short amount of time. Also been practicing pivoting on my good leg to chairs, the toilet, etc. and then lifting myself up on one leg. I like to think my body is developing a cell memory that will help make the transition easier. I have a regular wheelchair and a friend gave me a motorized wheelchair. I’ve used a cabulance to take me to appointments but will try getting into the car unless the pain is too much.

I have a supportive family and have done all the work to prepare myself physically, emotionally and spiritually at the recommendation of my surgeon who incidentally took some of his training at the Mayo Clinic. I will check in asap after the surgery.

Good luck to you.

Jan in Washington State

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Hearing from everyone is an answer to prayers. 12 surgeries! You sound upbeat and positive, but still, 12 surgeries is 12 too many. You are an inspiration to me. I truly appreciate your support and prayers. I have been using guided visualization and affirmations from Belleruth Naperstek. She has the most soothinng voice. This Hip Journey was not on my Bucket List.

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@mrfish

I’ve had the opportunity to do some more reading tonight about anterior versus posterior approaches and I feel more at ease than I was earlier. I was under the impression that the anterior approach led to significantly shorter recovery times and that doesn’t seem to be the case, or at least not as significant as I had thought. I guess one interesting aspect of my surgical travails will be a first person perspective on both the anterior and posterior methods.

And, yikes, as one of my pre-surgery tests/exams today, I was on the receiving end of a MRSA nasal swab test. At least it was over quickly, but I hope I never need one of those again.

9 days to go.

Thank you to all for your input so far. Any more insights/experience would be greatly appreciated.
Art in Alaska

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Good luck with your surgery.

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@janelaine

I am scheduled for this surgery on Tuesday of this week. I have a fungal infection but won’t know about a bacterial infectiion until they do the culture following implant of the spacer. I am told there is to be no weight-bearing on my right leg which means I will be confined to a wheelchair or walker or crutches. I’ve tried hopping around on a walker with one foot and find it very challenging. I am 78 yo. If you are fortunate enough to get rid of the infection in the first go round, I’d be doing the happy dance for you (yes, on one foot!) I would like to see that outcome for myself but don’t want to get my hopes up.

I learned on Friday that I will not be doing PT following the surgery. Maybe down the road but don’t know yet. I will be in a rehab center for what I hope is a short amount of time. Also been practicing pivoting on my good leg to chairs, the toilet, etc. and then lifting myself up on one leg. I like to think my body is developing a cell memory that will help make the transition easier. I have a regular wheelchair and a friend gave me a motorized wheelchair. I’ve used a cabulance to take me to appointments but will try getting into the car unless the pain is too much.

I have a supportive family and have done all the work to prepare myself physically, emotionally and spiritually at the recommendation of my surgeon who incidentally took some of his training at the Mayo Clinic. I will check in asap after the surgery.

Good luck to you.

Jan in Washington State

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The cuffs gently squeeze your calves (there’s a small pump you have to carry around and it has hoses that run to each leg). They are supposed to improve circulation to prevent clots and help w/ healing.

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@janelaine

I am scheduled for this surgery on Tuesday of this week. I have a fungal infection but won’t know about a bacterial infectiion until they do the culture following implant of the spacer. I am told there is to be no weight-bearing on my right leg which means I will be confined to a wheelchair or walker or crutches. I’ve tried hopping around on a walker with one foot and find it very challenging. I am 78 yo. If you are fortunate enough to get rid of the infection in the first go round, I’d be doing the happy dance for you (yes, on one foot!) I would like to see that outcome for myself but don’t want to get my hopes up.

I learned on Friday that I will not be doing PT following the surgery. Maybe down the road but don’t know yet. I will be in a rehab center for what I hope is a short amount of time. Also been practicing pivoting on my good leg to chairs, the toilet, etc. and then lifting myself up on one leg. I like to think my body is developing a cell memory that will help make the transition easier. I have a regular wheelchair and a friend gave me a motorized wheelchair. I’ve used a cabulance to take me to appointments but will try getting into the car unless the pain is too much.

I have a supportive family and have done all the work to prepare myself physically, emotionally and spiritually at the recommendation of my surgeon who incidentally took some of his training at the Mayo Clinic. I will check in asap after the surgery.

Good luck to you.

Jan in Washington State

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Thanks. Don’t know if I will have them or not. I’m busy packing. Arrival time at the hospital is 9 a.m. It’s gonna happen. Best wishes to you for a successful surgery.

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I finally made it home last night after a longer than exected 10 days in the hospital. The pain in the first few days following the surgery was something I could never have imagined. Fortunately, my ortho brought in a pain management specialist who inserted a pain block (nerve catheter, pump and bupivacaine) which was a huge improvement. The popping and grinding with the spacer is getting better as I move around more (on a walker), but movement is still quite difficult. For the self-administered IV antibiotics (vancomycin twice daily) I have a PICC line that runs through a vein in my right armpit, so using crutches is not allowed (or at least using a crutch on the right side).

Once I get settled in more at home I’ll post more updates. Than you everyone for your advice and guidance. This has been quite an adventure so far, and it’s still early.

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@mrfish

I finally made it home last night after a longer than exected 10 days in the hospital. The pain in the first few days following the surgery was something I could never have imagined. Fortunately, my ortho brought in a pain management specialist who inserted a pain block (nerve catheter, pump and bupivacaine) which was a huge improvement. The popping and grinding with the spacer is getting better as I move around more (on a walker), but movement is still quite difficult. For the self-administered IV antibiotics (vancomycin twice daily) I have a PICC line that runs through a vein in my right armpit, so using crutches is not allowed (or at least using a crutch on the right side).

Once I get settled in more at home I’ll post more updates. Than you everyone for your advice and guidance. This has been quite an adventure so far, and it’s still early.

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@mrfish So glad you made it home!! The first couple of weeks will be the worst but should gradually improve. I will be praying for smooth sailing from here on out!!! Thanks for the update!
Lindsay

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@mrfish

I finally made it home last night after a longer than exected 10 days in the hospital. The pain in the first few days following the surgery was something I could never have imagined. Fortunately, my ortho brought in a pain management specialist who inserted a pain block (nerve catheter, pump and bupivacaine) which was a huge improvement. The popping and grinding with the spacer is getting better as I move around more (on a walker), but movement is still quite difficult. For the self-administered IV antibiotics (vancomycin twice daily) I have a PICC line that runs through a vein in my right armpit, so using crutches is not allowed (or at least using a crutch on the right side).

Once I get settled in more at home I’ll post more updates. Than you everyone for your advice and guidance. This has been quite an adventure so far, and it’s still early.

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Welcome home. Sounds like you had a lot more pain than I did. I was in the hospital three nights and then in What was called a skilled nursing facility for three more nights but it turned out to be a residence for patients with more long-term disabilities. It was not a good fit for me. I am getting home health care with a visiting nurse occupational therapy and physical therapy.

I transition to a walker into a wheelchair. I don’t feel confident using a walker for a any distance. The hospital had an air mattress on my bed that they sent home with me and I have that set up on a recliner.

The pain is manageable. I am not very active at this point except for getting up for meals and going to the bathroom. Having the spacer in is a very strange experience. It feels like it slips around sometimes.

My doctor thought he got all the fungus infection out. He should have. The scar is about 12 inches long. I see him next week for the first follow up. Maybe get the stitches out. I did not have a bacterial infection and I’m grateful for that.

I admit to having been on an emotional roller coaster because I did not expect to lose so much control over my life.

One day at a time.

Please stay in touch and let us know how you’re doing. This support is invaluable right now.

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