How to Get in a Car After Hip Surgery

Updated February 21, 2017

Getting in and out of the car is one of the most difficult and potentially painful activities for someone who has had a hip replacement. The ride home from the hospital can be quite problematic if the individual does not know the best way to approach this dilemma. With the help of a family member, friend or hospital staff, this chore is doable with a minimum amount of discomfort. Knowing the right way to get into and out of a vehicle will allow you to get home and then back and forth to appointments.

Avoid trying to get in or out of your car by yourself. Refusing help is not only false bravado, it is potentially dangerous as you may dislocate your hip after a replacement surgery.

Remember, the key precautions for a hip replacement patient are to avoid bending forward more than 90 degrees, avoid crossing your legs at all times, never rotate your surgically-repaired leg outwards and never bring your knee up so that it is higher than your hip. People commonly employ these movements when entering a vehicle so you must make a concentrated effort not to do so.

Instruct someone to place the back of the passenger's seat in the reclined position as far as he can. Sit down slowly on the car seat with your legs facing out the car door. Have someone place your crutches into the back seat of the car.

Have the person aiding you lift up your left leg as you lay back on the car seat. Tell the person to support your leg by holding the heel of your foot and the back of your calf. Scoot up so that your leg will clear the car door as the person slowly swings the leg into the car. Make sure they go slowly, especially if your left leg was the one the surgeon operated on. Do not try to swing the leg in under your own power.

Stay in a reclined position as your helper swings your right leg into the car. This will be a painful proposition if your doctor operated on your right leg. Instruct them to go slowly, but remember to stay in a reclined position and as far "up" on the seat as you can be so the leg will easily clear the door and swing into the car.

Place a pillow under your head for comfort during the ride. Stay in the reclined position since sitting up will bring you close to breaking your precautions and create a potentially dangerous scenario. Have the person helping you connect your seat belt.

Exit the car in the reverse manner you got into it. Have someone slowly support your leg and swing it out, as you stay reclined and back on the seat. Have them remove the other leg in the same way before you sit up. Acquire your crutches and stand slowly as you leave the car.


Make sure your doctor clears you to drive before doing so, which typically occurs about a month after a hip surgery that has no complications.


Stay out of sports cars and those with low bucket seats as this will cause you problems when you attempt to get up, requiring you to bend more than your precautions allow.

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About the Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.