Aims. The aim of this study was to describe patients’ experience of pain and pain relief following hip replacement surgery.
Background. Annually, many patients undergo hip replacement surgery. Previous research has focused largely on the long-term effects on pain for patients who undergo hip replacement surgery and to a lesser degree on their subjective, early postoperative pain experience.
Design. A descriptive qualitative design was used.
Methods. The study was carried out in an orthopaedic ward at a hospital in Sweden during 2006. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 15 patients who had undergone hip replacement surgery. Data were analysed by means of qualitative content analysis.
Results. The postoperative pain experience was characterised in terms of interrelated contexts of time, various bodily activities and postoperative pain intensity. The postoperative pain intensity was characterised in terms of intensive and worst imaginable, strange feelings and fear and a feeling of faintness. Easing of postoperative pain was related to professional care features, such as nursing staff, pharmacological pain relief and technical aids. Self-care features were related to relieving body positions, endurance and looking ahead.
Conclusion. Although the development of total hip replacement surgery has been very successful, there are issues that need to be addressed in relation to postoperative pain management. The findings in this study show that there are reasons for making a more concerted effort to develop postoperative pain management, particularly during the first few days after surgery.
Relevance to clinical practice. The results provide some indication that pain management for this group of patients in the early postoperative period needs to be improved to reduce the fear of moving and improve the process of regaining independence. Devoting more attention to the patients during the initial postoperative phase may be the key to improve the training and making it even more effective.