What To Expect From Physical Therapy After A Hip Replacement

If you have serious arthritis in your hip or you have fractured your hip, a hip replacement may be your best option. The surgery itself is pretty straightforward and common, but afterwards, you will go through a period of physical therapy in order to help you heal and recover. Here's a look at what you can expect from that physical therapy.

Therapy will probably start about a week after surgery.

Right after surgery, your doctor will want you to spend a little time healing and recovering from the surgical procedure itself. This will give your incisions a little time to start healing and give your body some time to get over the effects of anesthesia. You may see a physical therapist a time or two during this first week; they may help you get out of bed into a wheelchair or evaluate your flexibility and strength. However, they probably won't do a lot of work with you right off the bat.

You'll be asked to do seated strengthening exercises at first.

When physical therapy officially begins, you may wonder what you can possibly do as you're not yet able to walk. However, therapy will typically start while you're still seated or lying down. Your therapist will help you stretch your hip and pelvic area, and they'll also have you push against pressure with your foot to help strengthen your muscles again. As they see your flexibility and strength improve, they will move towards helping you get up and walk again.

Physical therapy will be painful, especially at first.

Many patients do not enjoy their physical therapy experience because it is painful. Your therapist will have to push you to perform exercises that are uncomfortable or very difficult. To get through, you need to trust that they won't ask you to do anything that you are incapable of. The pain is unfortunately part of the healing process, and if you push past it, you will regain more function in your hip, enabling you to be more active once you recover.

Therapy will likely continue for about a year.

The most intense part of your therapy will be the first two or three months when you are re-learning how to walk and complete daily tasks. But your therapy won't be over then; it will typically continue for about a year. During this time, your therapist will slowly introduce new exercises to further strengthen your hip and help you return to your original capabilities. The better you keep up with exercises between appointments, the sooner you'll be done with therapy.

Physical therapy can be the most challenging part of a hip replacement. Talk to your doctor to learn more.