How to prepare for a full hip replacement operation

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Gone are the days of a hip replacement only lasting ten years, with technology advancing at the pace it is, they will be growing new legs by the time we need repeat surgery!

Nevertheless, for those who have decided upon a hip replacement, it is imperative to get stuck into what we call ‘pre-habilitation’ as early as possible.

Six to eight weeks of learning the movements and strengthening the area around the hip is optimal, but if there is an option to commit more time to the cause, then do it!

I am getting a new hip joint – why bother exercise beforehand?

Typically, a TPC physio will walk a patient through the post-operative period and what to expect. Not only will they explain the rehabilitation exercises that will help a patient regain mobility, but they will work with the patient to actually practise them.

We are trying to activate the muscles around the joint to make it easier for a new hip to be supported post-surgery.

Focusing on muscle activity (so we know what we want the hip to do) will also help to reduce fatigue and reduce the weight-bearing load on the new joint – aiding stability, mobility and quality of life.

There are 17 muscles in total, so there is a bit of work to do!

We divide the hip muscles into four groups which connect to the buttocks, the abdominals, the back and the thigh – so they are essential to functional ability and quality of life.

You can activate these muscles with simple exercises such as standing on one leg, squatting, bridging (lying prone and lift buttocks with knees bent) and moving the leg away from – and across – the centre line of the body.

The surgeon will stipulate precaution limits (in degrees of angle), but post-operative hip replacement exercises will involve bringing the knee to the chest, out to the side and the back – all while keeping the pelvis stable.

Some people come out of surgery in a lot of pain, others are comfortable and a few are completely pain free with minimal medication.

Patients who know what to do – do better

Those who are getting the other hip replaced always fare better because they know what is coming and they know the benefits of pre-habilitation.

In working hard on exercises before the operation, we are also conditioning and familiarising the brain.

So that when you’re told to do this and that after the operation, you’re more familiar with what to do.

There are two main types of hip replacement operation

 Not all precaution limits are restrictive, It depends on the type of surgery, and other defining factors.

In a total hip replacement, part of the thigh bone – including the ball at the top of the thigh bone – is removed and a new, smaller artificial ball is fixed into the rest of the thigh bone.

Resurfacing the original socket and the ball of the thigh bone is a different form of hip replacement. Instead of removing the top of the thigh bone and replacing it with an artificial ball, a hollow metal cap is fitted over the head of the thigh bone. The socket part of the joint is also resurfaced with a metal component.

Build a team around you

Any large-scale project needs a team – if only to be make it more enjoyable!

Try to talk to somebody who has had a hip replacement, or a knee replacement. The hip is a larger operation, but they generally tend to be far less painful.

It’s a big undertaking, so don’t be scared to build a team around you to help with strength and mobility, and mental conditioning. Oh, and have fun with it – it helps to laugh!