Your Guide to Hip Replacement: Surgery, Physical Therapy, and Recovery
Over 300,000 people in the United States undergo full hip replacement surgery every year.
An anterior, lateral, or total hip replacement involves the removal of the diseased or damaged part of the joint. During replacement surgery, surgeons insert new and functional artificial parts. Ultimately, the goal of a hip operation is to increase range of motion, improve function, and reduce pain at the hip. These goals improve quality of life for patients. But, they, like other similar mobility-improving surgeries like ACL surgery or back surgery also come with a price.
This sounds ominous, but it actually isn’t – the “price” is a lengthy recovery period that includes physical therapy. But before you get to the post surgery recovery, you’ll have to have the procedure first.
Why might you need a total, anterior, or lateral hip replacement?
The most common reason is the wearing down of the joint due to osteoarthritis. In more rare cases, osteoarthritis happens with rheumatoid arthritis, necrosis, or injury. Runners are also prone to hip injuries, which can occur more frequently if the right hip flexor exercises aren’t completed. Many people with knee injuries that require knee surgery end up with hip issues, too. Surgeons take a patient’s age into consideration as well. Most individuals undergoing hip replacements are 45 years of age or older.
You can see details of a total hip replacement procedure HERE.
What Happens After a Hip Replacement Surgery?
Following surgery, total hip replacement physical therapy is necessary. You learn to use your new hip and teach your body how to adapt to it. A full post-op hip replacement recovery, including physical therapy, takes about 3 to 6 months depending on your health and fitness status. During this time, patients and therapists explore many different physical therapy avenues. Breathing exercises common with cardiopulmonary physical therapy as well as low impact options like Yoga are recommended to many patients. Read on to find out more about common post surgery recovery options for hip replacement patients.
What Does Physical Therapy for a Hip Replacement Involve?
Most often on the day of a total hip arthroplasty surgery, your physical therapist in the hospital will teach you the first stage of exercises. This begins your recovery journey. Most of the exercises initially involved in post-op hip replacement physical therapy are simple. They aim to improve blood flow to the area, help guide daily living activities, and begin contracting major muscle groups.
For instance, you may first perform ankle pumps, quadriceps contractions, and gluteal contractions in your total hip arthroplasty physical therapy session.
What to Expect from Post-op Hip Replacement Physical Therapy
It’s not uncommon for complete hip replacement patients to be up and walking – with the aid of their physical therapist – the day after surgery. Also, you likely won’t spend longer than 10 days in the hospital.
Your physical therapist will work with you daily in the hospital. Once discharged, you are referred to an outpatient physical therapist who will help you through the remaining stages of your total hip replacement therapy. They will continue to prescribe exercises. This outpatient orthopedic physical therapy is useful for many different kinds of surgery recovery, but is tailored to your specific needs. Your physical therapy program is much different from the next patient’s – take advantage of this.
Lateral, total, and anterior hip replacement physical therapy exercises that are prescribed are all based on strength and range of motion progression. This is similar to someone that has a shoulder replacement surgery. You will eventually graduate to standing exercises, such as standing side leg lifts and standing hamstring curls.
Physical Therapy After Hip Surgery: Where to Find It
In physical therapy for a hip replacement, your PT may also provide tips and tricks for walking and performing daily tasks at home. It isn’t recommended to cross your legs when sitting, to bend your hip more than 90 degrees, or to turn your leg in toward your body – at least not until your surgeon or physical therapist tells you it’s okay to do so. The same applies to high-impact activities. Instead, during total hip replacement post-op suggested physical activity includes swimming, biking, or walking.
A Total Hip Replacement Improves Your Overall Quality of Life
People don’t get hip replacements for no reason. You likely were in pain and having trouble functioning in your day-to-day before surgery. After surgery and post-op hip replacement recovery, expect your quality of life to substantially improve. Staying consistent with your physical therapy post hip replacement exercises and following the instructions of your physician is critical in achieving that level of success. You may not plan on physical therapy as part of your recovery, but don’t discount it. This process helps people of all ages and fitness levels get better.
Physical therapy isn’t just for athletes recovering from surgery. It’s not only for those that got injured on the job. Physical therapy and surgery recovery work for everyone – as long as you take the process seriously..
Have you recently undergone total hip arthroplasty and are ready to find an appropriate PT near you? You can find the Hospital for Special Surgery physical therapy clinics and Rehabilitation Network clinics on the BetterPT clinic location tool website or download the BetterPT app and request an appointment. It’s time to find a physical therapist to suit your needs and your location. For those concerned about getting to and from their appointments after a hip replacement? There’s the option for telehealth. This service makes it possible to schedule and attend sessions through the BetterTelehealth platform without leaving your home.