Total Hip Replacements- What you need to know to feel ‘Hip Again’ [2023]

The decision to have a hip replacement is a large one. While hip replacements are quite common, they are definitely not an easy decision to make. So here’s a bit more information to help make your decision.  

So what is a total hip replacement? 

A hip replacement is essentially the replacement of an arthritic hip, meaning its joint cartilage and surface isn’t as smooth or tolerable as it once was. It is often this irritable joint surface that when loaded creates pain and discomfort. This is replaced with a synthetic joint through surgery, meaning the surface is once again smooth. Although the process may sound easy enough, the surgery requires cutting through bone and muscle which requires rehabilitation to ensure high level functioning after surgery.  

 “Am I ready for a hip replacement? YES!” 

Your pain is preventing you doing many things that you enjoy, such as going for a walk, playing with your grandchildren or playing golf. 

Your hip pain pain significantly limits your ability to do required activities like shopping, cleaning, and going up and down stairs. 

You have tried other treatments such as a course of physiotherapy focusing on improving your lower limb strength and capacity, but the pain is still limiting your life. 

“Am I ready for a hip replacement? Not quite yet:” 

Your hip is painful but you manage day to day activities quite well.  

Your pain has improved with lower limb strengthening exercises from your exercise physiologist or physiotherapist.  

You haven’t yet tried exercise rehabilitation to improve the load tolerance of your hip.  

It is important to consider the above statements to see if there are other options to try before making the huge decision to have surgery.  

After total hip replacement surgery what do I need to be careful with? 

You may have heard some people who have had their hip replaced not being able to sit on low chairs and wondered why. Well, there are a few different approaches to replacing a hip, which result in different precautions.

Now the most common approaches are anterior and posterior, with some surgeons starting to perform lateral approaches more recently.

The approach is just the direction in which they perform the surgery. Particularly with anterior and posterior approaches, there are precautions or movements which are not to be performed for at least a few months after surgery.

This is because the natural hip stabilisers (muscles and ligaments) are disrupted from the surgery meaning the risk of a dislocation is a lot higher than normal.  

In posterior approaches, flexing the hip above 90 degrees, crossing the legs or bringing the operated leg across the midline is not recommended. For anterior approaches, the precautions are extending the hip, bringing it away from the body, or rotating the leg away. Your surgeon will reinforce these before letting you go home after surgery. 

What’s involved with Total hip replacement (THR) surgery: 

Preparation for surgery is key! Making sure your muscles are functioning as well as possible before surgery leads to better outcomes afterwards.  

The surgery will last from 1-3 hours, and you will wake up with a IV and a catheter in your bladder. These are often removed the day after surgery.  

You will be given regular pain relief while in hospital, and provided some to take home with you. This is very important as managing pain is imperative to moving and exercising the limb regularly after surgery.  

The operated leg is often weak and difficult to move straight after the surgery. This is because the brain has activated its ‘protection mode’ and the muscles around the leg will almost be switched off. It is very normal at this stage for it to be difficult to move the leg.  

Walking after a hip replacement surgery?! 

The day of surgery, a physiotherapist will most likely visit and get you up to at least stand, if not walk for a few steps. This is really important, as moving the leg as early as possible has the best outcomes.

They will give you a walking aid to assist in the beginning phase and provide you with some exercises for the first few days in hospital and the first few weeks after going home.  

What rehabilitation is needed following a total hip replacement?

Once you are released from hospital, you should have enough pain relief and exercises to last you for the first few weeks.

Here’s an example of the early stage hip exercises :

It is very important that you are followed up by a physiotherapist within 3 weeks after surgery.

This is to ensure:

  • the hip is moving and healing well 
  • progress you off your walking aids 
  • change your exercises.

Depending on which hospital you have it done at, they may have outpatient services for you to go to, otherwise going to any private physiotherapist (like ourselves) will work just as well.  

It is a slow process over the few months to progress your walking and general exercise tolerance. But soon enough with the correct rehabilitation you should be back doing the things you struggled with before surgery, such as playing with the grandkids, playing golf or just being able to walk around the shops.  



So if you thought that surgery was your only option, you’re about to have a replacement, of you’ve just had one, feel free to give us a call on 3351 5639 to get started on your journey with us.


You can book with Rani online here.

Rani Goulding - Arana Hills Physiotherapy

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