Hip op patients 'walking sooner' at Norfolk hospital

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Hip and knee replacement patients at a Norfolk hospital are walking within hours of surgery following a new approach to post-operative care.

New pain relief and early physiotherapy means patients can be discharged within four days, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has said.

A pilot among 30 patients had "very impressive" results, it added.

Previously, patients were confined to bed for up to 48 hours after surgery and were in hospital for a week.

An epidural injection in the back would make them numb from the waist down for about two days.

'Never believed possible'

During the pilot, patients stayed in hospital for an average of three and a half days.

Orthopaedic surgeon James Wimhurst said: "Until I saw it for myself I would never have believed it possible for patients to recover so quickly after their surgery.

"It seems that targeted pain relief, plus early intervention from physiotherapists and occupational therapists, can have a very positive impact on patients, both physically and mentally."

The new technique involves an injection of local anaesthetic straight into the joint by the surgeon, followed by an infusion of anaesthetic into the joint and a combination of painkillers taken orally.

Annie Bennett, 66, from Postwick, near Norwich, said walking around the ward less than 10 hours after hip replacement surgery was a great psychological boost.

Ward sister Kay Marrison said: "With this new technique patients are far less dependent and anxious and it's very clear that mind over matter plays a very big part in their recovery."

The technique has been used in Scandinavia and Australia for seven to 10 years and more recently at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow.

The hospital said it could be extended to help patients undergoing shoulder surgery and major bowel surgery.

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