The Importance of Physical Therapy After a Hip Replacement

The Importance of Physical Therapy After a Hip Replacement

Hip replacement surgery is used most commonly on patients with osteoarthritis, a condition caused by wear-and-tear on the joints where any form of physical activity is painful. More people are getting hip replacements all the time, and Harvard Medical School estimates that 300,000 total hip replacements are performed annually, nationwide. That number is expected to double by 2030.

While it may be surprising, many patients are able to get back on their feet in the first few days following a hip replacement surgery, even though the hip joints are the largest in the body. In fact, while it used to be commonplace to let patients relax on the day of their surgery, more surgeons these days are trying to get patients to get back to moving as soon as possible. Likewise, while hip replacement patients used to have to stay in the hospital for an extended length of time, today, many are able to have outpatient surgery, meaning they can be discharged the same day as the surgery.

Fortunately, most patients notice an immediate improvement in their hip pain. However, once the hospital stay is over, the real work at regaining mobility begins.

What Does Physical Therapy for Hip Replacement Involve?

It’s routine to have extensive physical therapy, also called rehabilitation therapy, after hip replacement surgery. This is because most people who have had hip replacement surgery need to regain strength in their formerly arthritic hips, which usually have weakness surrounding the joints. A skilled physical therapist can help patients regain the strength of these muscles and improve the patient’s gait.

Most patients need to have appointments 2-3 times per week for at least a month to help with strengthening, stamina, and balance. Each patient progresses at their own pace, usually depending on their strength, body mass index (BMI), and their pain tolerance. A physical therapist will help the patient work on improving their mobility, which includes doing tasks such as bathing, dressing, and other daily activities.

The timetable for returning to physical activities after hip replacement varies, but usually goes like this:

  • Walking with a cane or walker: 2-4 weeks post-surgery
  • Walking unassisted: 4-6 weeks
  • Walking up stairs with assistance: 1 week
  • Walking up stairs without unassisted: 4-6 weeks
  • Driving: 4-6 weeks
  • Sex: 4-6 weeks
  • Office/otherwise sedentary work: 4 weeks

Your surgeon will likely be actively involved with the specifics of your physical rehabilitation program and modify it as needed to adhere to your specific recovery protocol.

Looking for a physical therapist after hip replacement surgery? Contact ProFysio at (732) 812-5200 or book your appointment online.

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