Hip replacements are becoming more common as our growing population ages. Though advances in surgical techniques and tools have made these procedures less invasive over time, there is still a need for physical therapy as part of post-surgical recovery. Here, we’ll walk you through what physical therapy looks like after a total hip replacement.
Just as every patient is different, so is every surgeon. Many orthopedic surgeons use the same main guidelines for post-op protocols, but there are occasional variations based on the physician’s preferences. At Motus, we always base our therapy plans off of the therapy protocols provided by the orthopedic surgeon. Along with assisting with DME, some examples of common precautions that our therapists emphasize right after hip replacement surgery include:
- No crossing of the legs
- Sleeping with an ABD pillow (or whichever is recommended by the surgeon) between the knees at night
- No bending forward at the waist
- Walking every 4 hours with a assistance device, as recommended by your physician
- The use of compression stockings and perform ankle pumps (pointing, then flexing your feet in repetitive movements) to prevent blood clots
These and other protocols can last several weeks and can be discontinued at different times based on the progress you’re making throughout your recovery.
Once you are able to start participating in physical therapy, your therapist will do an evaluation, set goals with you and will work with you on regaining strength and range of motion. Often, it is suggested that you start working on therapy in some degree as soon as possible, progressing the exercises as time goes on. The below exercises can be assigned during therapy or could be performed at home to help recover from hip replacement surgery to achieve the best recovery.
Sit to Stand
While seated in a supportive chair, scoot to the edge of the chair. Holding on to the arm rests or a walker in front of you for assistance, raise up to standing. Slowly lower back down into the chair and repeat 10 times. This is an exercise you can perform early in the recovery process. Once you are able, perform this exercise without the assistance of armrests or something in front of you for support.
Laying on your back with your legs straight in front of you, slowly glide one of your legs to the side. Hold in the furthest comfortable position, then slowly return to the start. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.
This exercise can also be performed standing, while holding on the back of a chair or a countertop.
Laying on your back with your knees bent and feet planted on the floor, slowly rise your hips off the ground to the highest comfortable point, maintaining contact with the floor on your shoulders and upper back. Hold for 5 seconds, then return to start. Repeat 10 times.
Laying on your side with your knees bent and your feet together, slowly raise one knee while keeping your feet together, opening like a calm. Hold at the top for 5 seconds and then slowly return to the start. Repeat 10 times then switch sides.
How long does it take to recover?
Recovery time after a hip or any joint replacement procedure varies on the person. In general, most patients achieve a full recovery several months after surgery. A typical course of physical therapy after a hip replacement can take around 6-8 weeks. As always completing physical therapy and complying with your surgeons recommendations will give you the shortest and most effective recovery possible.