Physical Therapy After Total Hip Replacement

One of the most commonly performed orthopedic surgeries is a total hip replacement (THR). The surgical techniques and prosthesis used for a THR have improved over the years, allowing the patient to now achieve optimal recovery and less pain. Physical therapy is an important aspect in a successful, full recovery after hip replacement.

In the Hospital

Right after your total hip replacement, a physical therapist begins working with you to restore joint motion and strength. Initially, therapy begins in physical therapy1the hospital the day after surgery. A therapist shows you how to get in and out of bed, ways to get into the shower and car, and how to walk using a walker or crutches. In addition, the therapist has you perform simple exercises in bed to prevent blood clots, such as gluteal squeezes and tightening the thighs.

After a hip replacement, some patients received additional physical therapy in a rehabilitation facility before going home. This will depend on the age of the patient, what the home environment is like, and functioning when discharged from the hospital. The physical therapist works with the patient using exercise equipment for strengthening and mobility. Balance exercises are used to decrease risk of falling. In addition, the physical therapist uses heat to warm up tight muscles and ice to reduce soreness and swelling.

Avoiding Dislocation

After a total hip replacement, there are some considerations the physical therapist follows to help you decrease risk of dislocating the new hip. With the posterior approach hip replacement, you cannot bend the hip past 90 degrees, must avoid crossing your legs, and cannot rotate the hip inward. Maneuvers to assist with avoiding these activities include use of a raised toilet seat and shower chair, use of a pillow between the knees, and using an orthopedic device to put on shoes and socks.

Home Physical Therapy

Once you go home, the physical therapist will visit you 3-4 times each week to improve hip strength, mobility, and flexibility. Common therapy exercises include:

  • Buttock contractions – Tighten muscles and hold to a count of 5.
  • Abduction exercise – Slide leg out to the side as far as possible and then back.
  • Quadriceps set – Tighten thigh muscles and try to straighten knee. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Straight leg raises – Tighten thigh muscles with knee straight. As muscles tighten, lift leg sever inches from bed and hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Standing exercises – These include standing knee raises, hip abduction, and hip extensions.
  • Walking and full weight-bearing – These exercises are used to help you perform light everyday activities.

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Recovery at Home

Don’t be surprised if you feel fatigued right after surgery. This will improve over the next few weeks, however. You should arrange to have someone help you out for 1-2 weeks after your total hip replacement. The exercises given to you by your physical therapist are an essential part of recovery.

You should be able to stop using crutches or a walker, and resume normal leisure activities within 6 weeks of the surgery. However, it could take up to 12 weeks for pain to completely resolve. Your new hip is continuing to recover for up to 2 years after the operation, which involves scar tissue healing and restoration of muscles.

Orthopedic and Sports Performance Institute in Gilbert AZ offers top surgeons specializing in joint replacement (hip and knee), along with sports medicine too. Most insurance is accepted with patients being seen from all over the Valley including Mesa, Chandler, Queen Creek and Scottsdale too! Call us today.

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