When a hip or joint is replaced, the joint is now in great condition. The connective tissues (including muscles) however are yet tight and shortened from likely months or years of the patient adapting, protecting the joint.
It can be a difficult task following surgery but with the proper guidance of a physical therapist the patient can perform an optimum program of exercise to ensure the best outcome and function.
One exercise focus that can be missed is learning and performing appropriate exercises over the months BEFORE the scheduled surgery. To the best of the
AN INVESTMENT PAYS OFF
One of my patients, on his own, sought such instruction in appropriate exercises before having both knee joints replaced during the same surgery. He not only exercised his legs, but also his arms and upper body knowing he would be using crutches after surgery.
Over the 2 months prior to having both knees replaced he learned the right exercises to perform and was dedicated in their performance at home and the local YMCA.
The result? A lot of work afterward, but considerably less than if he had not proactively sought and performed the exercises he did before surgery.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR about providing you a physical therapy order to learn what you can work on BEFORE surgery or simply seek out instruction on your own. The results of preparing for a surgical procedure can make rehabilitation much easier and provide a much better long term outcome.
One of the biggest issues our patients face if they have arthritis or after a total joint replacement is gaining back lost range motion. It's tough and not exactly a comfortable task but it can be done. First the best offense is a good defense and by that I mean keep your joints moving to the best of your ability. Yes I know it hurts but keeping the muscles loose is critical in maintaining and gaining long term flexibility. You see muscles adapt to how they are used. If you keep the joint still then the muscles respond by shortening to the range in which they are used. Once the joint is replaced the muscles are still tight and need to be worked to regain their length. The easiest way to avoid this work is by keeping everything moving BEFORE surgery. Use ice or heat to help make things manageable and remember it will pay dividends in the end.
Gary Fischer, PT, DC
Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, Onalaska, WI