Hip replacement surgery can be a game changer regarding the quality of life–especially for seniors whose mobility is limited by joint pain. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), total hip replacement is safe, effective and one of the most successful operations in the medical field. More than 300,000 hip replacements are performed each year, and outcomes are incredibly positive overall. However, patients don’t just bounce back to full activity directly after a hip replacement: it takes some time to recover, and a good physical therapy program is key to a complete and vibrant recovery.
What Hip Replacement Services Does Evergreen Provide
In many cases, patients need short-term rehab from a skilled nursing facility or outpatient physical therapy in the first few weeks or months after surgery. Especially for older patients, supervised physical therapy is a lifesaver and can play an essential role in avoiding re-injury.
Exercise and stretching are an important component of Evergreen’s rehabilitation program for patients following hip surgery, but we go way beyond the traditional range of motion exercises!
- Exercise: Evergreen offers gentle stretching and strengthening exercises under the supervision of skilled therapists so patients can avoid re-injury. As you regain strength, your exercise program becomes more challenging but stays safe and in line with your ability.
- Infrared therapy and ultrasound therapy: these therapies have been shown to reduce joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. Infrared uses low-frequency light to boost healing while ultrasound therapy uses high-frequency sound waves to stimulate muscle tissue. These gentle, non-invasive treatments are administered using small handheld devices and aren’t nearly as complicated as they may sound.
- Electrical stimulation: a range of studies have shown that neuromuscular electrical stimulation can help strengthen muscles and can also block pain signals in the body to help with pain relief. Combined with an exercise program, electrical stimulation can improve strength and range of motion, maximizing the impact and safety of exercise.
- Occupational therapy: our skilled occupational therapists help patients adapt to life at home as they recover. From the basics of using the bathroom and showering to learning to use a walker or cane, we help patients and caregivers adapt your home for your return to make it safe and accessible.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Hip Replacement Surgery?
While you should be able to resume some daily activities within a few weeks, it’s best to take it easy and start slow. The AAOS recommends physical therapy for at least two months following surgery and also reminds patients that some pain and swelling can continue for up to six months. The process isn’t necessarily short, but allowing yourself the time to recover offers significant long-term benefits. For elderly or weak patients, some time in a skilled nursing facility can give patients and caregivers time to prepare for the return home as they build strength.
What Are Common Hip Injuries?
The hip is a ball and socket joint where the thigh bone or femur meets the pelvis. Because it’s right in the middle of your body, it gets lots of wear and tear from sports and daily activities. Doctors recommend replacements when the protective cartilage gets damaged. A total hip replacement means replacing the “ball” at the top of the femur with a metal or ceramic replacement attached to a metal stem.
According to the AAOS, arthritis is the most common reason for hip replacement. This can include the osteoarthritis many of us experience as we age, the autoimmune condition known as rheumatoid arthritis which causes inflammation and damage to cartilage, and post-traumatic arthritis which happens when cartilage is damaged following an accident or injury.
Although there are several surgical options when a patient breaks a bone in the hip region, a total hip replacement may be the best option when there is damage to the head of the femur or lower part of the pelvis, especially in older patients.
What Exercises Should I Do After Hip Replacement Surgery?
In many cases, you’ll start with a supervised exercise program with a physical therapist and then move on to doing exercises on your own.
Here are some examples of AAOS recommendations for post-surgery exercises. Patients usually start out in a lying position and move to standing as they gain strength.
- Ankle pumps and rotations
- Knee bends
- Sliding your legs to the side (abduction)
- Leg raises
Patients also benefit from graduated walking, starting with support and moving on to walking independently. As you get stronger, you’ll begin to tackle stairs. A stationary cycle is another excellent way to move the joint–start out slowly with a therapist’s supervision and take things up a notch as you build strength. Once you’re home and on your way to recovery, swimming and water aerobics are excellent opportunities for low-impact cardio exercise.
Hip Replacement Recovery: Slow and Steady To Stay Safe
Slow and safe are two important words to remember as you begin a new phase of life with your new hip. This miracle of modern medicine can give you a new lease on life, but it’s important to take your time in getting back to the activities you love. Moreover, having the support of a terrific rehab and physical therapy team can help you jump safely back into your best life!