Do You Need Physical Therapy After Hip Replacement?

For people suffering from severe arthritis or significant hip injuries, hip replacement surgery can greatly improve their quality of life. The goal of hip replacement is to relieve pain and increase mobility, making it easier and more comfortable to walk around.

But the surgery itself is not a miracle cure. To get the most out of a hip replacement, it's essential to participate in a formal physical therapy program.

What is a hip replacement?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 300,000 Americans undergo hip replacement surgery each year. There are two types of hip replacement surgery:

Total hip replacement replaces both the ball and socket of the hip joint with artificial parts made of metal or plastic components.

Partial hip replacement replaces only the ball of the hip joint, leaving the natural socket in place.

The most common reason for hip replacement surgery is pain related to osteoarthritis, but it may be recommended for certain types of hip fractures or tumors.

Benefits of physical therapy after hip replacement

After hip replacement surgery, you'll need to strengthen the muscles surrounding your joint to be able to use it properly. For this, your surgeon will likely refer you to a physical therapist for rehabilitation. Not only will physical therapy speed up your recovery, but it will also help to:

  • Prevent injury

  • Ease pain

  • Restore movement

  • Improve circulation

  • Avoid blood clots

  • Promote independence

In general, you should be able to begin your rehabilitation program while you're still in the hospital, as soon as 24 hours after the hip replacement procedure.

What to expect during hip replacement rehabilitation

After performing a full assessment, your physical therapist will design a customized treatment program to help you get moving as soon as possible. While no two treatment plans will look the same, you can usually expect to engage in exercises to strengthen your thighs, glutes, and pelvic muscles. This will help improve your balance, as well as your ability to stand and walk on your own.

As your therapy progresses, you'll move onto more specific actions to help you accomplish daily tasks, such as:

  • Getting into and out of beds and chairs

  • Putting on socks and shoes

  • Climbing stairs

The average time for hip replacement recovery takes between four and six weeks, but your experience may vary based on your condition and your overall health.

How to encourage healing after a hip replacement

While it's imperative to take an active role in your physical therapy after a hip replacement, there are some other things you can do to help encourage faster healing:

  • Sit in firm chairs with straight backs. Avoid recliners.

  • Use elevated toilets seats to avoid bending at the waist.

  • Remove tripping hazards, such as area rugs or loose wires.

  • Minimize stair climbing, if possible.

  • Keep items at waist level to avoid reaching up high or bending down low.

In the months following your hip replacement surgery, you will likely need help from loved ones with house cleaning, meal preparation, or making adjustments to your home, so you can fully focus on your recovery.

If you don't have help at home, or if you're at an elevated risk of health complications, your doctor may suggest you complete your physical therapy at an inpatient hip replacement rehabilitation program, like the one at Bella Vista Health Center.

Inpatient hip replacement rehab at Bella Vista Health Center

At Bella Vista Health Center in San Diego, we offer individualized treatment for patients recovering from hip replacement surgery. Our competent, caring physical therapists will help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible, while the nursing staff at our 5-star skilled nursing facility provide you with round-the-clock medical attention and moral support.

For more information about our hip replacement rehab, call us at (619) 644-1000 today.