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Total Hip Arthroplasty Exercises

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 5/21/2009

Are you having a total hip arthroplasty? This article gives you a brief overview of what you can expect following total hip replacement surgery, including what to expect in hospital recovery and after.

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    Image Credit: MedTerms.com
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    What is a total hip arthroplasty?

    The term “total hip arthroplasty" refers to the surgical procedure in which the joint of the hip is removed and completely replaced. This is most often done either to relieve joint pain or to improve functionality. The replacement hip joint that is inserted is prosthesis. Prostheses are most commonly made of plastic, metal or ceramic, or a combination of the three.

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    What can you expect after your total hip arthroplasty?

    Most people who receive a total hip replacement can expect to spend five to ten days in the hospital following their operation, during which they’re given fluids and antibiotics through an IV to avoid infection. Plus, their doctors and medical staff need to be sure that no other complications arise during that time.

    Patients are taught special exercises that they can do while lying down in order to prepare for the transition to walking with the new joint, and they’re thromboembolic deterrent (TED) stockings to avoid blood clots in the legs.

    Total hip replacement patients are given pain medicine in the hospital as well, and often continue the pain meds for a period of time after hospitalization.

    Since physical therapy is such an important part of the recovery process for total hip replacement patients, many are released from the hospital to a nursing home or rehabilitation facility. Those who return home immediately are often visited there by a physical therapist.

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    What kinds of exercises are safe after a total hip arthroplasty?

    Your physical therapist or doctor will need to approve any exercise you do following your total hip arthroplasty. It’s important that you get medical clearance before performing any type of exercise, especially following such a complicated procedure.

    However, you may expect your medical team to ask you to begin with exercises such as these following the surgery. Each of the following exercises is performed lying in a hospital (or home) bed.

    Ankle Pulls

    Lying on your back, legs stretched out flat, pull your toes slowly towards your knee, flexing your foot up and down five to ten times in a session. Repeat on the other side.

    Ankle Turns

    Lying on your back, legs stretched out flat, gently curve your feet in toward one another. Repeat five to ten times on each side.

    Knee Bends

    Lying on your back, legs stretched out flat, slowly place your foot flat on the bed. Slide it toward your buttocks, being careful not to allow too much pressure on the knee or hip. Repeat 10 times on each side.

    Exercises like the ones listed above are often prescribed in the hospital as they’re usually safe to do immediately following surgery, but remember to follow your doctor’s specific prescription for physical therapy with a qualified therapist to ensure your safety and reduce your risk of injury.