Total Hip Replacement and Physiotherapy


When it comes to total hip replacement surgery, the journey to recovery doesn’t end in the operating room. Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in both the pre-surgical and post-operative phases. In this article, we will explore the benefits of physiotherapy before and after total hip replacement surgery, highlighting its importance in optimizing outcomes and facilitating a smooth recovery.

Understanding Total Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement, is a surgical procedure that involves replacing the damaged hip joint with an artificial joint. This procedure is typically recommended for individuals with severe hip pain and limited mobility due to conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or hip fractures.

The primary goal of total hip replacement surgery is to relieve pain, improve joint function, and enhance the patient’s quality of life. However, the success of the surgery greatly depends on the patient’s commitment to pre-surgical preparation and post-operative rehabilitation, where physiotherapy plays a pivotal role.

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The Role of Physiotherapy in Pre-Surgical Care?

The main objectives of pre-surgical physiotherapy include:

  • Strengthening the muscles surrounding the hip joint to provide better support and stability.
  • Improving range of motion and flexibility to enhance the surgical outcomes.
  • Educating the patient about post-operative exercises, pain management techniques, and mobility aids.
  • By engaging in pre-surgical physiotherapy, patients can significantly improve their physical fitness, leading to better surgical outcomes and a smoother recovery process.

Benefits of Pre-Surgical Physiotherapy

  • Enhanced Surgical Outcomes: Engaging in pre-surgical physiotherapy can improve muscle strength, flexibility, and overall fitness, which can directly contribute to better surgical outcomes. Strong muscles and improved joint mobility facilitate the surgeon’s ability to position the artificial joint accurately.
  • Faster Recovery: Preparing the body for surgery through physiotherapy can help reduce post-operative pain and inflammation. Additionally, the pre-established exercise routine ensures a smoother transition into post-operative rehabilitation, speeding up the overall recovery process.
  • Improved Functional Abilities: Physiotherapy before surgery can enhance a patient’s ability to perform daily activities. By increasing strength, balance, and flexibility, individuals can regain their independence and enjoy a higher quality of life post-surgery.
  • Psychological Preparation: Pre-surgical physiotherapy provides an opportunity for patients to ask questions, address concerns, and mentally prepare for the upcoming surgery. This emotional support can help reduce anxiety and promote a positive mindset, which is crucial for successful rehabilitation.
Preparing for Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Before undergoing total hip replacement surgery, patients should follow a few essential steps:

Consultation with a Physiotherapist: Schedule an appointment with a qualified physiotherapist who specializes in pre-surgical care. They will assess your physical condition, develop an exercise program, and provide guidance on pain management techniques.

Follow the Exercise Program: Adhere to the prescribed exercise program diligently. This will help strengthen the muscles around the hip joint, improve joint flexibility, and enhance overall physical fitness.

Lifestyle Modifications: Make necessary lifestyle adjustments, such as maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and optimizing nutrition. These changes can contribute to better surgical outcomes and improve long-term joint health.

Discuss Medications: Talk to your surgeon and physiotherapist about any medications or supplements you are currently taking. They will provide guidance on which medications to continue or discontinue before surgery.

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Importance of Post-Operative Physiotherapy

Post-operative physiotherapy is crucial for achieving optimal outcomes after total hip replacement surgery. Here’s why it’s important:

Faster Recovery: Physiotherapy helps expedite the recovery process by improving joint mobility, muscle strength, and overall function. It enables patients to regain independence and resume their daily activities sooner.

Preventing Complications: Post-operative physiotherapy minimizes the risk of complications, such as blood clots and joint stiffness. It promotes proper healing and reduces the likelihood of long-term complications.

Long-Term Success: Engaging in post-operative physiotherapy can significantly enhance the longevity of the hip replacement. By maintaining strength and flexibility, individuals can extend the lifespan of the artificial joint and delay the need for revision surgery.

Individualized Approach: Each patient has unique needs and goals. Post-operative physiotherapy offers a personalized approach to rehabilitation, ensuring that the treatment plan addresses specific challenges and optimizes outcomes.

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Exercises and Techniques in Post-Operative Physiotherapy

Post-operative physiotherapy is an essential component of total hip replacement recovery as mentioned. It aims to restore mobility, strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip joint, and improve overall function. The physiotherapist will develop a personalized treatment plan based on the patient’s specific needs and goals.

The post-operative physiotherapy program typically includes:

  • Range of Motion Exercises: Initially, the focus is on gentle exercises to restore joint flexibility and prevent stiffness.
  • Strengthening Exercises: As the recovery progresses, targeted exercises are introduced to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint.
  • Ambulation Training: Walking with an assistive device, such as crutches or a walker, is an important part of post-operative rehabilitation. The physiotherapist will guide the patient on proper techniques and gradually progress to walking without assistance.
  • Manual Therapy and tissue repair: Hands-on techniques, such as massage and joint mobilization, can alleviate pain and improve tissue healing – including scar tissue.
  • Pain Management: The physiotherapist will employ various techniques to manage pain and discomfort, including manual therapy, heat, education and more!

BONUS: Lifestyle Adjustments for Long-Term Success

In addition to physiotherapy, certain lifestyle adjustments can contribute to long-term success after total hip replacement surgery. These include:

Regular Exercise: Engage in low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, to maintain joint health and overall fitness.

Weight Management: Maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on the hip joint and minimize the risk of complications.

Healthy Diet: Consume a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients that support joint health, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Continued Physiotherapy: Regular check ups, progression of exercises, assessment and advise can help prolong and prevent any issues!


Pre-surgical physiotherapy is highly recommended as it optimizes outcomes and prepares your body for the surgery. However, it ultimately depends on your surgeon’s recommendation and your individual circumstances.

The duration of post-operative physiotherapy varies from patient to patient. It typically lasts several weeks to a few months, depending on the progress and individual needs.

Driving should be avoided for at least 4 to 6 weeks after surgery, or as advised by your surgeon. The ability to drive depends on factors such as pain levels, muscle strength, and reaction times.

Total hip replacement surgery is performed under anaesthesia, ensuring that you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. However, some discomfort and pain are expected during the recovery phase, which can be managed with pain medications and physiotherapy techniques.

The duration before returning to work depends on various factors, such as the type of work you do and the progress of your recovery. It is best to consult with your surgeon and physiotherapist to determine an appropriate timeline.