Hip arthroplasty involves replacing part of the femur bone or hip socket with prosthetic devices. After surgery, a physical therapy program is created to help the individual regain flexibility, increase range of motion and strengthen the hip and leg. The goal of physical therapy is to help patients to walk safely without assistance and eventually return to all regular activities.
Initially, the physical therapist will help the patient to use an assistive device such as a walker, cane or crutches. Specific exercises are created to strengthen the hip joint and the surrounding muscles. Initial exercises may focus on contracting and releasing the muscles in the hips, buttocks and ankles. Additional exercises may include:
Muscle strengthening exercises
Gradual weight-bearing activities
Range of motion exercises
As physical therapy progresses, the therapist will help the patient gradually increase the weight put on the leg, until he or she is able to walk without assistance. Patients must commit to their physical therapy program, to help them regain the strength and mobility needed, to return to all regular activities. Total rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery may take up to 6 months.