Preparing for a hip replacement? Here’s how a physio can help

Do you have a hip replacement surgery coming up? While this is likely a nerve-wracking time for you, there are some ways your physiotherapist can help you prepare for your operation and ensure a smooth recovery.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of what to expect before and after your hip replacement procedure and how physiotherapy can assist with surgery rehabilitation.

Pre-operative physiotherapy

Before your surgery, your doctor may recommend booking in some sessions with your physiotherapist to do some ‘pre-hab’, or prehabilitation sessions.

During your first appointment, your physiotherapist will get to know you, your medical history, your personal health goals, and discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your procedure.

Next, your physio will conduct a physical assessment of your body’s current movement and prescribe exercises that are tailored to improve your strength, mobility, and function.

The aim of these exercises is to reduce pain following your procedure and positively influence the trajectory of your recovery.

These sessions are also an opportunity for you to learn about and prepare for the weeks of recovery following your surgery, such as:

  • A typical post-operative exercise regime;
  • What kind of movements and activities you should avoid after surgery to safeguard your joint replacement, such as sitting too low or crossing your legs;
  • Getting advice and help with modifications to make your home more accessible, such as adding ramps over steps or raised toilet seats.
  • Getting familiar with assistive devices, such as crutches, while climbing and descending stairs or dressing and showering yourself.

It is recommended to talk through these things early on so that you’re not overloaded with information and everything is in place for your recovery, especially when you may still be in pain or feeling groggy following your procedure.

Physiotherapy after a hip replacement

What to expect immediately after surgery

Once your surgery is complete, there will be an in-hospital physio there to assess you and write up a discharge summary of your pain levels and joint mobility. 

They will also give you a prescribed list of exercises to do at home, so you can immediately start working on caring for your new hip joint.

Initially, you may feel a worsening of pain and find it hard to move around due to stitches and swelling.

You might not be able to drive for a while or struggle with walking outside of your home, but most patients are back on their feet from day one after surgery – with the assistance of walking aids as required.

Post-operative physiotherapy treatments

The goal of physiotherapy after surgery is to help you regain your mobility and independence, so that you can safely return to doing the activities you love.

Benefits of post-operative physiotherapy include:

  • Reducing pain and swelling.
  • Increasing your strength and joint mobility.
  • Helping to prevent secondary complications, such as joint stiffness or blood clots forming.

Over the next few weeks, you will be reassessed at regular periods by your physio so that they can record your progress and address any complications or unusual pain you may be experiencing.

If you have a chronic condition such as osteoarthritis, you may be eligible for a care plan under Medicare, which can help cover the cost of physiotherapy treatments after a joint replacement. 

To find out more about how to arrange a care plan, get in touch with your doctor or feel free to contact one of our Bunbury physiotherapists.

Keeping track of your recovery

To ensure you don’t cause yourself additional pain or injury, it’s important that you follow the advice of your physio and your prescribed exercise plan; while it can be hard to stick to at the start, it does get easier!

Your exercise plan will begin with small, frequent daily exercises, before increasing in intensity and decreasing in frequency as you go on. As time consuming and boring as it may be at the start, you’ll find that things will be much improved, easier to do, and more time-efficient as you progress.

Book an appointment with our Bunbury physio

Got more questions or want to book in a session with a qualified Bunbury physiotherapist? Get in touch with the team at Brecken Health Care here or call (08) 9791 8133.