Many of our patients at Suburban Orthopaedics are very well versed in the total hip replacement protocol. This is a specific set of instructions and exercises which are used for patients who have a total or partial replacement during their hip surgery.
These exercises and recommendations are used by both physical therapists as well as by our patients. They provide guidelines on when and what types of exercises and movements can be attempted in the weeks and months after the procedure. They also provide some lifelong recommendations to avoid complications with the replacement of a total or partial hip.
Many patients who have emergency hip surgery and don’t have a chance to talk in advance about the recovery and procedure are surprised at the process. In general, and when the patient is mobile prior to the hip injury or surgical procedure, the patient is often up and standing with assistance from the physical therapy team the day of or the day after the procedure.
This is important to prevent the formation of blood clots and to allow maximum blood circulation to the area. This not only speeds recovery, but it also helps to decrease swelling and possible inflammation of the area.
The exercises will start slow and limited and then increase in length, intensity and duration throughout your recovery. Many of the initial exercises can be done in the bed and include moving your toes up and own without lifting the leg off the bed. This helps to move the blood through the leg and can be done multiple times throughout the day as recommended by your physical therapist.
Later in Recovery
After you are up and walking and attending regular physical therapy, the exercises will focus more on strength building and stabilizing the joint. Leg lifts from a standing position to the back and front, using a cane instead of a walker and learning to go up and down stairs will all be included in your physical therapy work at our clinic.
You will also typically start to use equipment for strength building. This can include supported walking, working on an exercise bike or even swimming or working out in the pool in aqua therapy classes.
What to Avoid
It is also important to avoid some very specific activities or movements for the first few months after your hip surgery. These will be explained by our doctor as well as the therapist. They will include:
- Avoid crossing your legs as this puts outward pressure on the hip joint
- Don’t bend over more than 90 degrees forward at the waist
- Don’t bend over to sit
- Do not bring the knee above hip level
- Don’t reach down to pick up items off the floor or to move anything below your waist if you are lying down
By following the exercises planned by our physical therapists and avoiding any of potentially problematic activities you will maximize your recovery and soon be back to your normal routines.