Most patients who opt to have a total hip arthroscopy (THA), also known as a hip replacement, have been dealing with pain and immobility for quite some time. It may seem surprising to hear that after a hip replacement you will be asked to get out of bed and walk that very same day but studies show this can improve outcomes.
A study found that starting total hip replacement patients with physical therapy on the same day as surgery decreased the length of their hospital stay without compromising the overall functional outcome.1
Another study also showed that the patients who received physical therapy the same day as surgery had better function than the patients who did not 8 weeks post surgery. The patients are also more independent sooner following surgery and aren’t as dependent on hospital care.2
Early ambulation following surgery also promotes the blood flow of oxygen throughout the body, helps to maintain normal breathing patterns, and increases circulation. These functions can reduce the risk of developing blood clots, getting sick with pneumonia, and assists in faster wound healing.
Gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract function can also be improved through walking, which are important functions that should be back to normal with for discharge from the hospital following surgery.
First your vitals are checked by the nursing staff to ensure you are ready to get out of bed. A schedule of pain medicine can help ease the process the day after surgery. A physical therapist will instruct you how to move your ankles, thigh, and buttock muscles safely and to help maintain muscles and prevent blood clots.
You are then assisted in sitting on the edge of the bed along instructions with what are the proper movements and modifications to prevent dislocations after surgery. If you aren’t experiencing any dizziness or nausea, you are then able to walk using a walker.
Most total hip replacement patients are able to sit up in a chair on the first day following surgery as well as walk more with assistance before returning to the bed. Of course every patient is different and responds to anesthesia and pain medications differently and each physical therapy session is modified to fit what each patient can tolerate.
Physical therapists are often told by their patients during their first time ambulating after surgery that they haven’t felt this good walking in years and many are astonished that their pain level is so low after having a total hip replacement.
For the staff at the Heekin Clinic combined with the multidisciplinary team at the St. Vincent’s Orthopedic Center for Excellence, the goal is to get each patient moving towards the best possible outcome.