Rehabilitation After Hip Arthroplasty
Hip arthroplasty involves replacing part of the femur bone or hip socket with prosthetic devices. After surgery, a physical therapy program is created to help the patient regain flexibility, increase range of motion, and strengthen the hip and leg. The goal of physical therapy is to help patients to walk safely, without assistance, and eventually return them to all of their regular activities.
Initially, the physical therapist helps the patient to use an assistive device such as a walker, cane or crutches. Specific exercises are created to strengthen the hip joint and the surrounding muscles. Initial exercises may focus on contracting and releasing the muscles in the hips, buttocks and ankles. Additional exercises include the following:
- Muscle-strengthening exercises
- Weight-bearing activities (weight is gradually increased)
- Range-of-motion exercises
- Balance training
As physical therapy progresses, the therapist helps the patient gradually increase the weight put on the leg, until he or she is able to walk without assistance. To help regain the strength and mobility needed to return to all regular activities, a patient must make a commitment to following a physical therapy program. Total rehabilitation after hip-replacement surgery can take up to 6 months.