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. In replacement, new and functional artificial parts are put in place. Ultimately, the goal of a hip operation is to increase range of motion, improve function, and reduce pain at the hip.

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, the reason is attributed to 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. Age is often a factor taken 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.

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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.

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, guiding your recovery. 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.

      Lateral, total and anterior hip replacement physical therapy exercises that are prescribed are all based on strength and range of motion progression. You will eventually graduate to standing exercises, such as standing side leg lifts and standing hamstring curls.


      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 Can Improve Your Overall Quality of Life

      Hip replacements are not performed unless there is a 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, you can 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.

      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 website or BetterPT app and request an appointment. It’s time to find a physical therapist to suit your needs and your location.

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