Total Joint Replacement For Hip Pain

A hip injury or hip arthritis can cause intense pain and weakness. The hip is a ball and socket joint. Over time, the smooth cartilage covering the joint can wear away, making the simplest movements painful. Sometimes, a total joint replacement (TJR) will be recommended. The procedure removes the damaged cartilage and bone to install a prosthetic part. People opting for TJR report a 78% success rate. However, success is dependent on physical therapy (PT). Can starting PT before hip surgery make recovery even more rapid?

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Strengthen the new joint

Physical therapy can help people return to normal movement after surgery or injury. The protocol combines stretching, weight training, and other techniques. With total joint replacement, the procedure only fixes the damaged bone or cartilage. PT helps to strengthen the surrounding tissue to support the new joint. TJR recovery involves exercises like ankle pumps, hip extensions, leg raises, and more. Over several weeks, exercises increase in intensity, slowly strengthening the affected area. When done consistently, physical therapy significantly improves the long-term efficacy of the new joint.

Bookending physical therapy

Historically, PT has been recommended in 2 scenarios. The first is as a non-surgical treatment. In this case, the patient will perform several weeks of therapy until the pain subsides or the body heals. The second is immediately after surgery to help restore range of motion (ROM) and strength. Now, there is a third scenario, where physical therapy is used before and after surgery for the best shot at success. This approach forms part of a rapid recovery protocol for total joint replacement. Rapid recovery aims to speed up healing by combining physical therapy with counseling and medication. While rapid recovery is not necessary with joint replacement, there are some benefits.

Benefits of rapid recovery

Patients who choose the rapid recovery route will start about 4-6 weeks before surgery. The benefit of starting early is that the joint is more prepared for the procedure. Starting therapy also builds a consistent exercise, stretching, and massage habit that can be continued after surgery. The patient also feels better and can resume walking 24 hours after surgery. Rapid recovery hip replacement significantly narrows the recovery window. Counseling and pain management also create a deeper understanding of how best to manage pain and discomfort. Patients also learn how to move safely while the hip heals. With rapid recovery, patients generally return to normal activities faster.

Don’t skip PT

Most hip replacements today are performed with minimally invasive surgery, which shortens the recovery window. However, there is still pain and discomfort. Rapid recovery combines minimally invasive surgery techniques with physical therapy, counseling, and medication for the best recovery. With physical therapy started in advance, patients can manage pain, decrease the chances of complications, and get back to normal faster.

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