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John McDonald, MD

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Post-Op Instructions for Hip Arthroscopy

You may download and print these instructions here.


Indomethacin ER


Indomethacin ER 75mg

First dose to be taken the day after surgery upon arrival home from the hospital. Take once daily for a total of four (4) days.

You may download and print these instructions here.


You may download and print these instructions here.

Norco (Hydrocodone)

This medication is prescribed for pain control. Maximum frequency: every 4-6 hours. Do not exceed 8 tablets in one 24-hour period. Take this medication with food (even a cracker will help prevent nausea). For mild pain that does not warrant these medications, you may take acetaminophen (extra strength Tylenol) instead. Do not take it with your other pain meds.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Robaxin (Methocarbamol)

This medication is a “muscle relaxant” and is helpful in reducing muscle spasms. Muscle cramping usually begins within the first 48 hours following surgery. If you feel muscle spasms or cramping in your thigh or low back, take Robaxin 750 mg every 6 hours as needed. Using Robaxin may decrease your need for pain medications. Beware: Robaxin may make you feel drowsy. Patients also find it helpful to take Robaxin at bedtime for nighttime spasms/pain/difficulty falling asleep due to hip soreness.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Zofran (Ondansetron)

Zofran helps suppress nausea. Some patients feel nauseous from the surgical anesthesia and other medications. Take 1 tablet at the first sign of nausea and every 4-6 hours as needed.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Recommended Supplements for Joint Health

Post-operative Constipation

It is very common for patients to experience constipation after surgery because of the use of pain medications, etc. It is important to drink plenty of water or Gatorade and cut back on diet drinks and soda after surgery. Adding leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and other fiber-full foods such as prunes to your diet can also be of help. As a daily stool softener, we suggest Colace 100 mg tablets twice daily for the first week post-operatively or as long as you experience constipation. You can purchase this over-the-counter (OTC) at your local pharmacy. For severe constipation, one 8 oz. bottle of magnesium citrate should resolve this problem. This is also available over-the-counter.

You may download and print these instructions here.

After Surgery Care and Information

Many questions arise during the first week after surgery. There are many new sensations felt in the body, especially in the operative hip and leg. The following will help answer many of your questions to help relieve normal anxiety.

Crutch Use

After surgery, you will be flat foot weight bearing with 20 pounds of pressure with the aid of crutches from with a goal of returning to full activity as soon as possible. The length of flat foot weight bearing status will be determined by what procedure/s you have done. Proper flat foot weight bearing assists in decreasing your risk of developing a DVT or blood clot.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Hip Brace

You will need to wear the hip brace for 21 days. Place it securely around your waist and thigh, this serves as a reminder to control Hyperextension and Abduction. You will need to wear this brace when you are walking and do not need in when you are sitting or lying down. Once the brace is on, use your crutches and walk with flat foot weight bearing.

You may download and print these instructions here.

CPM (Continuous Passive Motion)

You will be given a CPM in the hospital room. You will use this machine up to the required amount of hours per day. Do not go over the required time per day. More time in the CPM machine is not better. If you are a smaller person, it is recommended to roll up a towel and place it on the lateral side of your knee while in the machine. This will prevent you from turning out into external rotation. You will need assistance to get into the CPM for the first couple of days after surgery.

To help in the prevention of lower back pain, try and maintain proper spine alignment while in the CPM. Additionally, you may roll a towel or use a small pillow behind your lower back.

Additional tips: Place the CPM unit in the middle of the bed to aid in preventing the machine and your leg falling off the bed. Avoid placing the unit on a couch or narrowed place for reclining.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Physical Therapy ("PT")


Of all the orthopedic surgeries Dr. McDonald performs, hip arthroscopy is the most rehab-dependent. There are very specific protocols that Dr. McDonald has developed that your physical therapist should follow to ensure the most successful recovery. The therapists at Texas Orthopedics have already been educated on these protocols. However, if you are seeing a therapist outside of Texas Orthopedics, they most likely are not familiar with the specifics of Dr. McDonald's protocols. Please make sure to notify Dr. McDonald and/or his physician assistant so that they can give you the necessary documents regarding protocols, which you can bring to your first PT appointment. Your first physical therapy appointment should be scheduled for the week of your surgery, either postoperative day #2 or #3. This appointment should be scheduled at the time of your preoperative appointment with Dr. McDonald. If you are seeing an outside therapist, please be aware you will likely need to call 1-2 weeks in advance to ensure you can have your first PT appointment within the proper time frame following surgery.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Range of Motion Restrictions (Discuss with Your PT)

  • Abduction range 0-45 degrees for two weeks
  • Flexion 0-120 degrees for 15 days
  • Extension goal is to gain full extension to 0 by the end of the 1st week
  • Extension greater than 0 allowed after day 21
  • Avoid the hip at 90 degrees for the first two weeks

You may download and print these instructions here.

Other Activities

  • Tummy time: 2 hours a day for two weeks
  • Circumduction: 10 minutes at 0 degrees and 10 minutes at 70 degrees, both two times a day for a total of 40 minutes a day for eight weeks
  • Bike: No resistance for first two weeks and helpful to have seat raised so there is not as much hip flexion

You may download and print these instructions here.

Anti-rotational Boots

When you are not in the CPM machine, either sleeping or lying down, you will need to be in these black booties. They prevent you from rotating out into external rotation to prevent extra stress on your capsule. If you choose to sleep on your side, please sleep only on the operative side. Use the boots for 14 days.

You may download and print these instructions here.

The First Few Days


It is quite helpful to have help at home during the first 7-10 days immediately following surgery. You will need to get to and from your physical therapy appointments, which typically begin the second day after surgery and occur twice weekly. There are also important postoperative activities that will require an additional person, primarily the daily circumduction exercises. In addition, it is helpful to have another set of hands using the equipment as instructed (i.e. anti-rotational boots and CPM).

You may download and print these instructions here.



We recommend you use ice to help with the postoperative pain. You have the option of using a Polar Care machine, which is a device that continuously circulates cold water to a pad that is placed on the hip. However, you may also use ice packs, gel packs, or even a large frozen bag of peas. Regardless of what you choose, you should ice the hip for 20 minutes at a time, several times per day. Please note that direct contact between your skin and the ice source can result in frostbite. Place a thin towel or pillowcase between your skin and the ice/polar care pad, as to prevent skin injury/damage.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Tips on Avoiding Hip Flexion at 90 Degrees for the First Two Weeks

Use a higher chair, a recliner chair, or while sitting you can slouch forward or backward. Please have the physical therapist do all circumduction exercises in 70 degrees of flexion and full extension. You are allowed to bend your hip deeper than 90 degrees, but do not spend time resting at 90 degrees, as this is when the labrum is loaded the most.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Active Calf Pumps

Do 10 up and down pumps of your feet every hour while awake. Foot pump and calf pump rational: Compression of plantar venous plexus causing return of the blood in your lower legs to your heart.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Follow-up Appointment

You will see Dr. McDonald approximately 10-14 days after your surgery for a wound check with suture removal and new x-rays.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Pain Control

A prescription for pain medication will be given to you upon discharge from the hospital. Pain medication should be taken as prescribed until you pain is under control. It will help to take your pain medication 30 minutes before therapy if you are experiencing any pain. At the time of your postoperative appointment with Dr. McDonald or his PA-C, you should be able to discontinue the use of the narcotic pain medication that you were prescribed. Addiction to narcotics should not occur during the initial phase post-operatively unless there has been an abuse prior to surgery.

Applying ice and elevating the leg as much as possible will help with the pain. Try to relax and allow other people to help you out as much as possible the first week.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Incision Care

The original dressing should be removed 48 hours after surgery. Clean your incision sites with soap and water, and then pat dry. Apply an op-site, water-proof dressing over the incision site until you have stopped draining. After, apply band aids over the incisions so your sutures do not catch and pull on your clothing. Do this daily or as needed throughout the day if the band-aid becomes soiled or wet.

Do not put any ointments or lotions over the incisions until your sutures are removed. By day 3 if no drainage is present, the incision should remain uncovered and keep clean clothing only covering the sites.

*** Do not allow pets to sit on your lap or sleep in your bed for at least 6 weeks following surgery. Pets may harbor fleas or mites or other organisms that may cause a wound infection!

If you should have any questions or concerns regarding your incisions, the best thing to do is to call Dr. McDonald’s office.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Suture Removal

Keep your sutures and/or staples clean and dry. They should be removed about 14 days after surgery.

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Following surgery, you will not be able to drive until:

  1. You are no longer taking a narcotic medication for pain.
  2. You are able to walk without a limp and no longer using your crutches.

If your procedure was on your RIGHT leg, you will not be able to drive for AT LEAST three (3) weeks postoperatively. If your procedure was on your LEFT leg, you MAY be able to drive sooner, pending approval from Dr. McDonald or his PA-C.

You may download and print these instructions here.


You may resume regular showers after the initial dressing is removed. While the wound is draining, please keep an op-site over the incision in the shower. After drainage has stopped, you may allow water and soap to run over the incision sites. When complete, pat the incision dry.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Returning to Work or School

You may return to work based upon the time frame that Dr. McDonald has laid out for you (typically 5-7 days if pain is tolerable). You must take the time to honor your commitments to physical therapy and office visits. Returning to heavy labor will be determined by your progression through physical therapy and the cartilage condition on the acetabulum and femoral head.

You may download and print these instructions here.

Surgery Risks

There are several risks to any surgery that must be taken into account.

Infection: is decreased with a sterile operating environment and antibiotics. Also, careful handling of the incision sites following surgery reduces the risk of infection.

DVT: (deep vein thrombosis, blood clot) is decreased through instituting early motion (CPM), mechanical means (foot pumps) and medication. Following the pre-operative and post-operative instructions will reduce the risk of deep vein clots.

Pain: with any surgical procedure there is a potential complication of pain. Medication, ice, rest, compression, elevation and therapy reduce post-operative pain.

Numbness: with hip arthroscopy, there is a small chance of numbness in the genitalia, inner thigh, and top of the foot briefly postoperatively. In order to perform the procedure, traction is applied to the operative leg with a well padded post placed between the legs and pads on the feet/ankles.  Occasionally, pressure from the pads can irritate the skin nerves in these areas.  If a patient gets numbness, it will almost always resolve over time (1-2 days to 2-3 weeks).

Call our office (512) 439-1000 or go to your private doctor’s office or an emergency room IMMEDIATELY if any of the following occur:

  • Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Redness and warmth around the incision(s), non-clear drainage from the incision, or increased pain in or around the incision
  • Calf swelling, redness, pain or warmth
  • Chest pain, difficulty of breathing, or cough

You may download and print these instructions here.