Total Hip Replacement: What To Expect

By Western Berks Physical Therapy on December 18th, 2019

What to Expect from a Total Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement surgery has become increasingly common in the United States but it’s only just the beginning.

A new study conducted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that the number of total hip replacements is expected to reach 635,000 by the year 2030 – a 171% increase. While there are many non-operative treatments and physical therapy routines available to patients that have proven to be very effective, there are cases where the hip is too damaged and must be replaced. Before a joint replacement surgery, such as a total hip replacement, you will need time to prepare, both physically and psychologically. Planning ahead for the challenges of surgery and recovery will help ensure a more successful outcome.

If you are planning to undergo hip replacement surgery, it’s important to educate yourself on the process, from pre-surgery testing to the day of the operation, to the recovery period and beyond. To help guide you, our Doctors of Physical Therapy have answered four of our most asked questions.

  1. How should I prepare mentally?

High levels of anxiety before surgery not only cause hardship on the day of the procedure, but also have a profound impact on a person’s recovery. Statistics show that 40% of all adults undergoing surgery experience high anxiety and adverse effects, both during and after the surgical event. While there is no doubt that medicine has advanced significantly over the past few decades, the challenge of high anxiety remains significant. So how do we go about managing preoperative anxiety? Here are some tips for the next time you or a loved one is preparing to undergo surgery.

  • Learn. First and foremost, learn about the procedure in depth by talking to your surgeon and doing research using reliable medical sources. In addition, do not hesitate to voice concerns or speak up if you do not understand something about your treatment.
  • Prepare. Prepare a list of questions and review the details with your medical provider. Generally speaking, studies show that the more information you have before surgery, the less anxious you will be at the time of the procedure. Total Joint Replacement: Questions Patients Should Ask Their Surgeon can help guide your questions in your discussions with your doctor.
  • Relax. Suggestions from Psychology Today include using guided imagery, music or even pet therapy to help relax. There are ample sources on the web that instruct you on the use of guided imagery and various breathing techniques for anxiety. Practicing these methods can be extremely helpful before surgery. Music is a wonderful tool that has proven to be highly effective. Rather than worrying in the holding area, listen to your favorite music. Other techniques such as scent therapy, touch therapy, and pet therapy are commonly used as well.
  • Support. The importance of social support systems surrounding a surgical event can’t be overemphasized enough. Friends and family are crucial throughout this time. Beyond the physical impact surgery has on your body, it can also affect you mentally and emotionally. Having a family member or friend to talk to throughout your recovery can help relieve any built up emotional stress. Your support system can also provide extra motivation if the recovery process ever seems too difficult or too long.
  1. How should I prepare physically?

Getting in the best physical shape possible before surgery can lessen the chance for complications and shorten your recovery time. From improving recovery times and shortening hospital stays to improving function and healing of soft tissue injuries, pre-operative physical therapy is a vital key to returning you to activity. A new study has found that as few as 1 to 2 sessions of preoperative physical therapy can reduce postoperative care use by 29% for patients undergoing total hip or knee replacement, adding up to health care cost savings of more than $1,000 per individual. In cases of a total hip replacement, pre-operative physical therapy focuses on training on walkers, planning for recovery and teaching patients basic exercises they will perform after surgery. Ask your doctor about pre-operative physical therapy to put you on the best path forward for your surgery.

  1. What is the recovery period like and how long will it last?

Most patients can expect their hospital stay to last between 1 to 2 days. In fact, many patients are even able to go home the same day. It’s very important to stay active in the days and weeks after hip replacement surgery to help aid in your recovery and prevent blood clots.

After surgery, you’ll probably be looking forward to going home and living your life without the hip pain you had before. But you’ll have to learn how to move to protect your new joint. This will mean regular physical therapy visits. “When you get home, keep in mind that the more you follow your physician’s guidelines, the quicker you will heal,” says Zachery D. Post, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Rothman Orthopaedic Institute who specializes in hip and knee arthroplasty and reconstruction. When you have knee or hip replacement surgery, your doctor will suggest you attend physical therapy afterward. Make sure to schedule your therapy visits prior to your hip replacement so that you stay on your recovery schedule.

Working with a Physical Therapist after a hip replacement will help to restore normal movement in your joint and build up strength in the joint and surrounding muscles. This in turn will help ease pain and swelling to let you get back to your normal activities.

  1. Will I be able to do everything I could do before experiencing hip pain?

Studies show that nearly 90% of hip replacement patients feel better and resume normal activity within a few months, and sometimes even weeks, following the operation. Your doctor and physical therapist will help determine when it’s safe for you to resume normal activities. You can typically return to work after four to six weeks, and resume driving one to four weeks after surgery. Two to 12 weeks after surgery, you’ll have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to make sure your hip is healing properly. While most people can expect to resume the majority of their normal activities by this time, a full recovery can take up to 12 months.

From improving recovery times and shortening hospital stays to improving function and healing of soft tissue injuries, physical therapy is a vital key to returning you to activity. If you are in the process of scheduling a joint replacement surgery, let Western Berks Physical Therapy help you prepare to have the best possible outcome before and after with convenient locations in Wyomissing, Laureldale and Robesonia.