Dec 6 2013
Patients who have experienced the chronic hip pain associated with degenerative arthritis or other conditions understand that undergoing hip replacement surgery may be the best option to alleviate their condition. This is a major decision, and many factors should be considered with a doctor before electing to proceed with the surgery. If the decision has been made to undergo the surgery, there are a number of steps that should be taken to reduce hip surgery recovery time. Investing time and effort into recovery will greatly improve the likelihood that the surgery will be successful and that the patient will be able to regain functional use of their hip.
The recovery process from hip surgery actually begins in the preoperative phase. There are a number of activities that preoperative patients can engage in that will increase the likelihood of a successful surgery while also helping to ensure a relatively quick recovery process. Engaging in physical activity will help to build muscle and strengthen the tissues around the hip, which can help to combat the loss of muscle strength in the postoperative period. Stretching can also be of great benefit, as increased flexibility is an important goal in the postoperative physical therapy. Any activity taking place before surgery should be first approved be a physician, and performed only if the patient is strong enough to do so.
Postoperative Physical Therapy
During the postoperative period, physical therapy is the most important aspect of recovery. Therapy can begin as soon as the day after the surgery, with patients performing exercises while seated, and with the assistance of a physical therapist. The routine prescribed by the physician and physical therapists must be strictly adhered to, though it may be modified by the doctor or therapist depending on a patient’s progress. If the program is not adhered to, there are a number of potentially negative outcomes:
- Excess scar tissue
- Mobility limitations
Through physical therapy, the muscles around the hip are strengthened and flexibility is improved. If the therapy is ignored, contractures can result from the formation of excess scar tissue. The excess scar tissue will then serve to impede the patient’s mobility, and will threaten the success of the surgery.
Explore Alternative Hip Surgery Methods
New techniques are being developed that may allow patients to recover much faster than traditional surgeries. These new methods use a smaller incision and do not surgically dislocate the hip. This procedure allows patients to recover significantly faster, with some patients being able to walk the same day as the surgery was performed. This is because there is less trauma to the muscles and tendons surrounding the hip, thereby reducing the amount of physical therapy necessary in the postoperative period.
Having surgery to replace a hip is a very major procedure, and must be taken seriously in all aspects. Preparing for the surgery by engaging in strengthening exercises can help to reduce recovery time, while proper performance of physical therapy will also aid in the recovery process. Additionally, patients can explore alternative surgical methods that are less invasive, leading to a significant reduction in the recovery time necessary.
Source: www.medicinenet.com, “Total Hip Replacement,” W.C. Shiel, 2013