Total Hip Arthroplasty (Replacement) in Happy Valley

Hip replacements are becoming one of the most common orthopedic surgeries in the US. Our beloved Baby Boomer generation, in particular, who have led active lifestyles, are in the prime of feeling their activities “catch up” to them, but don’t have any plans to slow down. With mild to moderate hip arthritis, modifying activities and participation in a prescribed exercise plan can stave off or slow down the progression of arthritic degenerative changes. Once the arthritic changes are causing pain that is interfering with your life & recreational pursuits but not resolved with a prescriptive exercise approach, a discussion with your preferred orthopedist is warranted. The old adage of “wait until it can’t get any worse” before having your hip replacement is now outdated from newer research indicating better outcomes if you don’t wait that long.

Physical Therapy Before Your Hip Replacement

One of our Doctors of Physical Therapy can guide you in targeted stretching and strengthening activities to maximize your function before the replacement, and help you understand what to expect after your surgery. Advice and training for activities shortly after your surgery would include among other things:

  • Getting in/out of a car
  • Set up of bathroom equipment
  • Reduction of fall risks
  • Training in assistive device use for walking

Establishing how to perform these seemingly simple tasks before they become complex and uncomfortable makes a world of difference early in recovery. Accidental falls and infections are the most common culprits of complications relating to your hip replacement.

Physical Therapy After Your Hip Replacement

Typically, you can begin outpatient rehabilitation at Ascent Physical Therapy the same week or following week of your surgery. Establishing a home program of activities for you to be performing several times per day can greatly accelerate early recovery efforts. Even though the replacement was to fix the painful condition of arthritis, your body will interpret the surgery as a large injury. You should expect some level of discomfort following the surgery and it is important to use pain management strategies provided by your orthopedist as instructed.

Early mobility is paramount to optimal results for your hip replacement. Regaining your mobility and strength is uncomfortable, but rest assured you are not causing any damage to your hip – assuming you are following your post-operative precautions. Initially, mobilization shouldn’t be overly aggressive while your incision is healing. Once the incision is healed, the scar tissue will also need to be mobilized to prevent long term symptoms.

Common Questions / Concerns

How long does a typical recovery take?

A typical recovery in physical therapy takes 6-10 weeks. There are many factors that influence the speed of recovery including but not limited to: general health before surgery, compliance to prescribed home program, and your bodies tendency to heal. Some individuals are back to “functional” in a month, others may take closer to 3 months. Most surgeons will tell you it can take up to a full year before your hip feels “normal”.

What are signs of complications?

  • Feeling feverish / having an elevated temperature
  • Hip is hot to touch and quite tender
  • Incision isn’t closing
  • Any foul smelling odors coming from your incision
  • Discolored fluids, especially if it is thick
  • Feeling unusual shortness of breath
  • Intense throbbing pain or deep aching in calf and/or groin

If you are experiencing these symptoms, call your surgeon’s office for consultation. Although rare, these things do happen. In 2015, we caught an infection early in the clinic and the patient underwent emergency surgery in less than 24 hours.

What amount of motion should I expect?

During your surgery, after the replacement is complete but before you are moved to the recovery room, your surgeon passively bends your hip to ensure a full potential amount is available. At the conclusion of your physical therapy you should expect a functional amount of mobility where you don’t feel restricted performing activities of daily living. If you aren’t able to restore a normal amount of mobility it can result in future: back pain, knee pain, ankle/foot pain. Your potential amount will depend on several factors, such as – how much motion did you have before surgery? Are you following the prescribed treatment program? And how much scar tissue do you normally produce after injury?

General Tips for Success!

  • Use cold packs. A lot. For the first 1-2 weeks you should be applying some form of cold therapy to your hip every few hours.
  • After your incision is closed, you’ll want to apply a scar cream or heavy moisturizer while performing a moderate pressure massage. This can keep the scar tissue pliable and flexible to achieve maximum mobility.
  • Try to stay active within tolerance. Prolonged sitting or standing will increase your stiffness.
  • Be sure to follow your home exercise program as instructed!

If you have had or are planning on having a hip replacement, call us today to get started on a plan of care that works for you. Ascent Physical Therapy is conveniently located off Sunnyside Road in Happy Valley. We also love treating our neighboring communities of Damascus, Gresham, Clackamas, and Sandy at our top rated physical therapy clinic!