Can Physical Therapy Help Me Avoid Hip Replacement?

While advances in technique have reduced the amount of recovery time required after a hip replacement, it’s understandable that patients want to consider conservative options prior to surgery. 

Dr David Slattery has extensive experience providing pre-operative support for osteoarthritis patients. A key component in his conservative treatment schedule is the use of physical therapy. In this article, Dr Slattery discusses the utility of physical therapy for osteoarthritis patients, its effect on existing cases of hip arthritis, and its use in a post-operative context. 

What physical therapy as a conservative treatment can achieve 

If you’re yet to undergo a hip replacement, it’s important to note first and foremost that physical therapy won’t treat the underlying osteoarthritis, but it may be able to alleviate symptoms. By strengthening the musculature around the hip, weight is offloaded from the hip and the stability of the gait improved. As the pain from hip osteoarthritis partially results from bone-on-bone friction due to a loss of cartilage, better supporting of the hip minimises stress at the joint, potentially reducing pain resulting from physical activity. As such, targeted physical therapy is often recommended alongside more general exercises such as walking or swimming, helping to strengthen a variety of muscles.

Why physical therapy is recommended after surgery 

Dr Slattery utilises enhanced recovery techniques to help patients return to their normal activities as quickly as possible. Physical therapy forms an important part of these techniques, speeding up recovery and reducing rehabilitation time after hip replacement. 

Should you decide to proceed with a hip replacement, Dr Slattery will prescribe a physical therapy program for you to follow. Beginning from your first day in the hospital, this program will evolve alongside your growing level of mobility, ensuring consistent progress throughout your recovery. In the days immediately following your surgery, you’ll progress from bed-based motions such as ankle pumps and leg raises to resistance-based standing movements and ultimately more dynamic exercises. Regular physical therapy can strengthen the muscles around the hip, minimising the amount of time required with a crutches or a frame and allowing you to progress to independent walking and more demanding physical activities sooner. 

Discuss your needs with Dr Slattery

If you’ve been advised to consider a hip replacement, start a conversation with Dr Slattery to learn more about your options. Contact his rooms today to make an appointment.