Is Physical Therapy A Part Of Total Hip Replacement?
Most people don’t understand the importance of the hip joint until severe pain hits. About 14% of American adults suffer from hip pain and discomfort, particularly those who previously played sports. Most cases are due to osteoarthritis or injury. If the pain becomes unbearable or impacts the quality of life, a doctor will recommend a total hip replacement. However, the surgery is only as effective as physical therapy afterward. Physical therapy can take weeks, but robotic total hip replacement may narrow this window.
What happens when your hip gets replaced?
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint where the femoral head fits into the acetabulum socket. With hip arthritis, the smooth cartilage on both parts is severely damaged, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. A total hip replacement starts with incisions around the pelvic area. The surgeon removes the damaged cartilage and the femoral head. Next, a ceramic or metal ball-and-socket joint is prepared and outfitted into the space. The end of the prosthesis, called the femoral head, is fitted into the femur. A surgeon will use open or minimally invasive techniques to perform the hip replacement.
Calling all robots
Minimally invasive surgery is often the technique of choice for hip replacements. Recently, robotic-assisted surgery has become an efficient, innovative approach to an already successful procedure. With this technique, the surgeon uses a device which looks like a robotic arm to perform the hip replacement. First, the device helps the surgical team map a 3D image of the prosthetic specific to the patient’s body. From there, the robotic arm guides the surgeon’s hand, keeping the procedure within the confines of the hip. That means less tissue damage, more accuracy, and faster surgeries.
Physical therapy after surgery
Robotic hip replacement patients can often leave the hospital on the same day. Due to small incisions, the recovery period is shorter. Some patients begin standing and can walk short distances immediately after the surgery but require physical therapy (PT) as a mandatory part of recovery. Physical therapy is a series of stretching, strengthening, and recovery techniques to improve strength and range of motion. The exercises increase in intensity over 6-8 weeks. This treatment starts as early as 1-2 days after surgery to help the patient move in and out of bed, balance, and manage pain.
Do you need PT with robotic total hip replacement?
Regardless of the procedure, physical therapy is an important part of recovery. The patient must build new strength and flexibility and acclimate to the new joint. However, robotic surgery cuts down the PT time significantly. In addition, the procedure helps measure the replacement to the point where the patient feels minimal discomfort. In some cases, PT can start several weeks before surgery to strengthen the surrounding muscles and support the joint. Physical therapy typically takes less than half the expected time if a patient is a good candidate for robotic surgery. Speak with a healthcare provider about what to expect during and after a robotic hip replacement.