What is physical therapy like after a hip replacement?

If your quality of life is impacted by persistent hip pain and stiffness, your health care provider may recommend a hip replacement. But after the surgery is completed, it takes patience and effort to restore your mobility so that you can return to your daily activities as safely as possible.

Post-surgical rehabilitation is essential after a hip replacement, and a physical therapist will guide you through every step of the way. But it can be a bit intimidating if you’re unsure about what to expect from the physical therapy following a hip replacement. We’re here to explain the process to ease your fears so that you can focus all your energy on restoring your mobility and getting back to your routines.

Read on to learn about the commonality of hip replacement surgery, what to expect from the physical therapy sessions that follow the procedure and the expected time frame of the physical therapy process.

How common is hip replacement surgery?

Hip replacement surgery, also called total hip arthroplasty, involves removing damaged or diseased parts of the hip joint and replacing it with an artificial part, called a prosthesis. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, and one or both parts can be replaced during the surgery.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. undergo hip replacement surgery every year. In fact, more than 450,000 hip replacements are completed annually. It’s especially common in people aged 60 or older, though young people who undergo hip replacement may need to have a second one later in life if they put excessive strain on the prosthesis. 

How to tell if you need hip replacement surgery

The goal of hip replacement surgery is to treat persistent or worsening hip pain. The pain is usually accompanied by stiffness and reduced mobility. Hip pain can stem from a variety of medical conditions or injuries, including:

Here are a few signs that you may need hip replacement surgery:

  • You feel pain in your hip and/or groin while walking or exercising.
  • You haven’t felt relief from other treatment options, such as medication.
  • You’re unable to stand on one leg for longer than one minute without support.

The physical therapy process after a hip replacement

The best way to speed up recovery after hip replacement surgery is by starting physical therapy as soon as possible. A physical therapist will likely start your post-surgical rehab while you’re in the hospital for a couple of days following the surgery.

In the first few days after your surgery, a physical therapist’s purpose is to help you move in and out of bed as well as gain enough strength to walk short distances with the support of a walker or crutches.

After you’ve returned home and started to gain a bit of strength and mobility, your physical therapist will create an exercise program that will help strengthen the muscles in your hip and increase your mobility. The exercises will start off as relatively low intensity, but your physical therapist may increase the intensity as they see fit over the following months.

How long is the physical therapy process after a hip replacement?

The timeline for post-surgery physical therapy is different for everyone, but three months of regular physical therapy appointments is usually enough to get you back on your feet with enough stability to return to your daily routines. With the help of physical therapy, many people are able to move around on their own with little to no pain after about four to six weeks. It’s essential that you continue to do your exercises to continue building stability and strength even after you notice significant improvement.

It’s important to note that a full recovery from hip replacement surgery can take up to one year of physical therapy. 

Back in Motion can help you with the physical therapy process after a hip replacement

Once you have a hip replacement, it’s natural to want to immediately try to jump back into the swing of things. But it’s important that you slowly work up your strength and hip function over the course of several months to reduce the risk of overexertion or injury. That’s where we come in.

With Back in Motion Physical Therapy, we’ll design an exercise program tailored to your abilities to help you gain independence and restore your mobility after surgery.
Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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