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Hip Replacement Exercises

Hip replacement is one of the most successful medical interventions, with the highest increases in quality of life measures of all. Hip pain is a common presentation which makes people consult their general practitioner and osteoarthritis is the commonest reason for this, with significant hip replacement costs occurring and increasing as the elderly population increases. Hip replacement may also be performed for a broken hip or fracture of the femoral neck.

With an arthritic hip there is much that can be done before a new joint is required, such as losing weight, using a walking aid and exercises for joint pain under the guidance of a physiotherapist.

The hip replacement exercises which may be prescribed vary with the many types of hip replacement such as total hip replacement and hip resurfacing. Exercises are not a major issue for most hip replacements, unlike knee replacement which requires regular and persistent adherence to an exercise programme for the best outcome.

Physiotherapists typically assess patients after hip replacement surgery and prescribe post hip replacement exercises as appropriate. In bed patients are asked to pump their ankles up and down, to push their knees down to tighten the thigh muscles and to squeeze their buttock muscles together. This moves the blood around the limbs and gets the muscles around the operation area moving again.

More advanced exercises once the acute pain has settled are to slide the heel gently towards the hip, bending the hip up and down regularly to regain control of the leg. Straight leg raising is not recommended, as this puts an inappropriate level of stress on the new hip.

A further new joint exercise program may not be required as normal walking once the joint has been made normal again is all that is needed to restore normal muscular action around the hip. Standing exercises for the hip and hydrotherapy may be suggested by the physio should a specific deficit in the hip be identified. if the joint is very tight after the operation then hip replacement stretches may be given by the physio and these should only be done on specific instructions of a registered physiotherapist as hip replacement therapy can be counterproductive if inappropriately applied.

Hip resurfacing exercises can be performed more regularly and with more effort as this joint replacement technique uses a much bigger femoral head with a consequently reduced chance of dislocation.

Watching a video about a procedure you are about to undergo can be really helpful as it gives a clear visual impression of what's about to happen and allows you to join in your rehabilitation with the physio in an informed manner. Go to hip replacement video for more information here. The methods shown in a total hip replacement video varies with the technique and implants used by the surgeons but the underlying principles are similar.

The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons has a hip replacement exercises page with good illustrations and Richard Villar, a UK orthopaedic surgeon, has a good page of exercises after hip replacement also.

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