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Preparing for a hip replacement

I am sure everyone has heard about it and maybe for some of you it will be a reality in the near future. But what has happened in your hip joint for it to require replacement?

The most frequent reason to have a hip replaced is because you are suffering from Osteoarthritis. It is basically the use and wearing of the hip joint to the point that cartilage has been reduced or completely worn off and bone is rubbing on bone, which is why you are getting the pain in your groin and have to relieve the pain by loading off to the better leg. Others might have fallen onto their hip and broken the articulating bones so they need replacing. Among others, these are the most common reasons.

It sounds like this is the job of a highly qualified surgeon, so where does physiotherapy come into the equation?

Well, if you are in the early stages of Osteoarthritis, physiotherapy can delay the wear and tear by relieving the joint, strengthening the muscles and preventing you from compensation in other parts of your body (the unaffected leg or the lower back).

If you are in the unfortunate situation of having to undergo surgery then your physiotherapist will not only help you to build up your muscles before surgery, but also start mobilising your new hip joint, as well as strengthening the involved muscles and stretching shortened muscles.

He/she will help to reduce post surgery pain and show you how to walk with walking aids, including up and down stairs and inform you about the alterations you may have to undergo in your daily life to help make your recovery a smooth one. For example, a higher chair and toilet seat can make all the difference, as will a helping hand to make getting dressed and undressed easier.

A physiotherapist will also teach you the few do’s and don’ts prior and post surgery. For instance, your knees should not be brought together at any point and if you wish to sleep on your good side you will have to have a pillow between your legs to avoid rotation in the new hip. Some restrictions vary according to the technique the surgeon chose to get to your hip joint so it’s always first priority to be compliant with the surgeon’s instructions.

This may all sound a little complicated but usually the surgery and the recovery are a routine procedure and, after three months, you should be walking without aids and for the whole first year experience a gradual improvement in strength, balance and flexibility. Most importantly, you can expect to continue your day to day life, but now pain free!

Best wishes and good health!

Tanja Rai, Physiotherapist

If you have any doubts or questions about physiotherapy, please contact Tanja on