Pain relief

Your pain should lessen every week. There are many ways you can ease your pain:

  • Raise (elevate) your legs and apply a cold pack to your incision after activities such as exercises or walking. This can help reduce swelling and pain. Use a clean, dry towel on your skin before you place the cold pack. Leave the cold pack on for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Use cold packs and lie down to elevate your legs several times throughout the day.
  • You may feel some discomfort in your new joint. You may also have swelling in your leg and foot after surgery. This is normal and will gradually go away. Call your surgeon’s office if you are concerned about the amount of swelling you have.
  • Take the prescription pain medicine as instructed by your surgeon.

Pain medicine: What you need to know

What to remember when taking pain medicines

  • Many pain medicines (like Tylenol®) have acetaminophen. Pharmacists advise that you take no more than 4,000 milligrams (4 grams) of acetaminophen in 24 hours. More than that could damage your liver. Acetaminophen is also found in cough and cold medicines.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking prescription pain medicine.
  • Do not drive any motor vehicles while taking narcotics or pain medicines that make you sleepy.
  • Eat a variety of healthful foods and drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Eat lots of fresh fruits, raw vegetables and other foods high in fiber. This will help prevent constipation. Talk with your health care provider or pharmacist about what you can do if you are constipated.
  • Taking your pain medicine with a small amount of food may be helpful to control stomach upset.

How to cut back your use of pain medicine

  • Take the medicine as instructed. Take the medicine at the same time the first few days you are home.
  • Cut back on the pain medicine when you think the pain is under control. You can go for longer times between doses or only take one pill instead of two. Take the medicine at the time of the day when you most often feel pain. This may be:
    • when you wake up in the morning
    • before you start certain activities
    • when you are ready for bed

When to call your health care provider or pharmacist

  • Take less of the pain medicine and call your health care provider if you have unusual feelings after taking it. This includes feeling dizzy, itchy or nauseous.
  • Make sure your health care provider knows what you are taking if you take several medicines. Some medicines can be harmful when taken with others.
  • Call your surgeon's office several days before the weekend if you need a narcotic pain medicine refill close to the weekend. Most health care providers on call will not reorder narcotics for others' patients.

Anti-inflammatory medicines

You may have been started on anti-inflammatory medicines during your recovery in the hospital. Anti-inflammatory medicines help with healing by reducing swelling and pain.

If you will be continuing an anti-inflammatory medicine after leaving the hospital, be aware that these medicines may cause stomach upset for some people. Take the medicine as directed on your prescription. Taking this medicine with food or milk may be helpful to control stomach upset. Call your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Hip Replacement, fifth edition, ortho-ah-90139
First Published: 10/01/2000
Last Reviewed: 05/26/2017

Managing your pain continues when you leave the hospital.

For more information on managing your pain, visit to watch a series of four short videos on pain.

The topics are:

  • pain expectations
  • how to use the pain scale
  • how to treat pain in the hospital
  • how to manage pain at home
You can watch the videos as often as you would like.
Talk with your surgeon before starting an anti-inflammatory medicine.