If you are facing hip replacement surgery, you should expect a complete recovery period of three to six months. During the initial days that follow your surgical procedure, a physical therapist will instruct you in various exercises to perform over the course of your recovery. Understanding the goals of therapy, choosing the right physical activities and making the commitment to carry out your assigned exercise program will be instrumental in ensuring your rehabilitation, enabling you to return to many of your previous daily activities in as little as six weeks.
The Goals of Exercise
Exercise is essential for recovery after a hip replacement surgery. While the exercises prescribed by your physical therapist are aimed at ultimately regaining the use of your new hip joint, the immediate goals of your exercise program include the following:
- To strengthen and develop muscle
- To increase range of motion and mobility
- To increase blood flow, which facilitates healing and prevents postoperative deep vein thrombosis
- To avoid inactivity, which leads to pain and stiffness
Your exercise program begins within the first two to three days after your operation and will consist of movements that will not pose the threat of injury to the new joint. The focus of these movements will be directed at stretching and strengthening your thigh muscles. At first, your exercises may be performed while lying down, and then you will progress to additional exercises that are performed while seated or standing with the support of a chair or stool. The number of repetitions or the duration of each exercise will gradually increase as you regain strength.
Within three to six weeks after your surgical procedure, you will be able to walk without the aid of a walker or cane. Once you are able to walk on your own and carry out exercising, the following physical activities are therapeutic in helping you to attain your goals:
- Stationary cycling
You should also make a point of taking walks every day in addition to your prescribed exercises. Begin by walking through your home before you progress to taking a tour of your yard and, ultimately, taking a stroll around the block.
As your pain fades and you feel your strength and endurance improve, you may be eager to resume some other forms of physical activity, such as a beloved sport or a body building workout at the local gym. Refrain from the following types of activity in order to avoid injuring your new hip joint:
- Any physical activity that requires sudden jolting, body weight shifting, heavy impact or continuous repetitive motion, including jumping, running, jogging, tennis, racquetball, basketball, football, hockey and high-impact aerobic exercise
- Any physical activity that poses an increased risk for a fall and subsequent hip joint dislocation, such as skiing, rock climbing or horseback riding
Certain exercises at the gym should be avoided as well, such as using the Stairmaster or the leg press. Be sure to consult with your physician or physical therapist before adding any physical activities to your prescribed exercise therapy regimen.
Adhering to your plan of physical therapy and avoiding harmful activities throughout the first three to six months after surgery will provide the best long-term outcome for a successful recovery.
For hip replacement surgery, contact a facility such as Orthopaedic Associates of Muskegon.