Importance of Outpatient Physical Therapy after a Hip Replacement

Before following expert advice from magazines, check with your physical therapist

A total hip replacement, also known as a total hip arthroplasty, is a surgery in which your hip joint is replaced with an artificial implant. Even though hip replacements are one of the most common joint replacement surgeries performed each year, it is a major surgery and rehabilitation is imperative.

Following surgery and prior to being discharged, you will work with a physical therapist on walking (likely with a walker or other assistive device), using stairs and going over a home exercise program.  Over the past few years, I have heard of more people being discharged home and told to continue with the exercises and do a lot of walking.  While these are certainly beneficial in your recovery, I do feel it is so important to follow up with an outpatient physical therapist after you have been discharged home, even if it is just for a one-time evaluation.

Why you should follow up with a physical therapist after hip surgery:

Physical therapists are the movement experts

Walking is an important activity following a hip replacement. Physical therapists are trained to identify if there are any impairments in a person’s gait (walking pattern) and how to help correct it.  We will also work with you on when to transition from a walker to a cane or no assistive device.  When people start using a cane on their own, it is so common to see the cane being used on the wrong side of the body or the height is not appropriate for them.

We will also make sure you are performing your exercises correctly. Our bodies are smart and will try to compensate to help the weaker areas.  A common example of this following a hip replacement is using the muscles in the front of your hip instead of those on the outside of your hip to move your leg out to the side.  As movement experts, we will make sure you are properly engaging the correct muscle(s) to help restore strength.

Manual therapy to restore soft tissue and joint mobility

When recovering from surgery, manual (hands-on) therapy can be beneficial in reducing swelling, decreasing pain and restoring function and mobility to the affected muscles, tissues and joints.

Individualized home exercise programs

The home exercise program you are given once discharged home from surgery is likely very general and with no progressions.  The home program of a more sedentary individual who lives alone at home will look very different from that of an active individual who wants to get back to cycling.  By seeing an outpatient physical therapist, the exercises will be customized to best meet your individual needs and goals.

If you are scheduled for an upcoming hip replacement surgery, be sure to ask your doctor about physical therapy after discharge.

Here at Apex, we have top-notch therapists that will help you through your recovery and get you back to function.

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