A total hip replacement (arthroplasty) is a common surgical intervention used in response to arthritis or fracture of the hip when conservative treatments fail. Following a hip replacement, physical therapy is a vital part of recovery to ensure that full function can be restored.
There are many conditions where a total hip replacement may be effective. Some of those include:
- Osteoarthritis of the hip
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Traumatic injury
- Avascular necrosis
- Hip fractures
- Benign and malignant tumors
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Often patients are suffering from a great deal of pain before their surgery. This pain can affect and limit their ability to walk, climb stairs, and sit up or down. If conservative treatment like physical therapy is not helping, your physical therapist will communicate with your doctor who may recommend imaging of the joint and a consult with an orthopedic surgeon.
Preparing Before Surgery
Physical therapy can be very helpful even before a patient has surgery. Physical therapists can help you prepare by:
- Helping you strengthen your hips and lower extremities
- Showing you how to safely and properly use a walker or crutches
- Teach you any precautions you will have post-surgery
- Help you plan for adapting your home environment after surgery to avoid potential dangers. For example, removing rugs or obstacles from walkways, installing grab bars in the bathroom and shower, etc.
It is important to begin physical therapy as soon as your surgeon recommends. With how advanced and minimally invasive surgical techniques have become, often patients are able to go home the same day or the next day as their surgery and begin physical therapy that same week. It is common to be stiff and sore after surgery but starting physical therapy early is the key to regaining as much function as you can. Your physical therapy treatment may include:
- Practice walking and climbing stairs
- Working on regaining balance
- Strengthening of the hip and leg muscles
- Range of motion of the hip
- More advanced task-specific activities once you have progressed to a higher level of function such as agility drills, lifting, squatting, and single-leg activities.
The goal of physical therapy is to help you achieve the highest level of function so that you can get back to all the things you love. If you are interested in learning what physical therapy can do for you either before or after surgery, schedule a free screen with one of our physical therapists to find out!
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