Live Life Again Pain-Free

Physical Therapy for Joint Replacement

New Joints for a New You – Physical Therapy for Joint Replacement

The decision to have a joint replacement is a big step involving major surgery and significant rehabilitation times. Patients will need to work closely with their surgeon and physical therapist for a return to full functionality and the new lease on life that a joint replacement can provide.

Knee and hip joints make up the majority of replacements, but the ankle, elbow, shoulder and wrist joints can also be replaced. During the procedure, the damaged portion of the joint will be removed and replaced with a ceramic, plastic or metal device that allows the joint to work normally.

A number of conditions can cause deterioration of a joint or the surrounding cartilage resulting in pain and disability, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. Joint replacement is typically the final option when medication, physical therapy, or changes in lifestyle don’t provide sufficient relief from pain and the risk of disability.


6 PT benefits for joint replacement

Physical therapy is an essential part of joint replacement therapy. Depending upon the joint that has been replaced, patients will need to relearn how to stand, walk, lift or grasp objects. Physical therapy helps:

  • Strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the joint
  • Reduce scarring around the joint
  • Promote mobility
  • Regain full range of motion
  • Ease pain
  • Regain balance, coordination and functionality

An important part of the rehabilitation process with physical therapy will be the use of assistive aids for mobility and a physical therapist will show patients how to use them effectively. Individuals will learn new ways of performing everyday tasks and ergonomic adaptations that will make life easier during recovery.

People often assume awkward positions and behaviors due to the pain and mobility issues associated with a poorly operating joint. An important aspect of physical therapy is helping patients regain and maintain proper posture and relieve pressure on the neurological system that can impede recovery success.

Recovery typically requires two to four months following a joint replacement, depending on the patient and joint that was replaced. The goal of physical therapy will be for patients to improve their mobility by two weeks following surgery with a return to regular activities by 12 weeks after the procedure.

Physical therapy before and after

Your physical therapy following a joint replacement will focus on pain relief and restoration of movement. Your body will need time to get used to the new joint and one of the best ways to accomplish that is through a physical therapy-based exercise program.

Your individualized plan may include at-home exercises, along with therapeutic massage and hydrotherapy to promote movement and relieve pain. Electrical stimulation, ultrasound and manual manipulation may be employed to aid in the healing process and maintain mobility, along with cupping, acupuncture and dry needling to relieve pain.

Part of your surgical and rehabilitation strategy may include pre-surgical physical therapy to strengthen the body, particularly in the area in which the replacement will take place. Physical therapy prior to surgery is effective for speeding recovery time and reducing the need for post-surgical care, allowing you to return to your normal routine quicker.

Pre-surgical therapy provides you with the opportunity to make accommodations and changes at home that will be needed following the surgery such as shower benches or handrails in strategic locations, along with a long-handled grabber that will be helpful for reaching items.

Joint replacement therapy can give you a new lease on life with greater, pain-free mobility to enjoy a more active lifestyle. Physical therapy before, during and after a joint replacement will help you recover quicker, reduce the risk of potential complications, and help you return to your favorite activities.

The Discomfort of Hip Bursitis

Hip bursitis is a painful condition, especially if an individual has had a pre-existing hip injury. Athletes involved in repetitive movements like running or bicycling are likely to experience bursitis.

Occasionally, the pain of hip bursitis can be dull and achy. It may also spread to the lower back. The inside of the hip (towards the groin area) can also get affected.Bursitis is the swelling of the bursa, which is a small cushion-like sac containing fluid. It is a protective sac that surrounds joints. The hip bursa is located over the outside part of the hip bone (also known as the trochanter).

This protective sac is also present in other joints like the knee, shoulder, and heel. When the bursa becomes inflamed, the pain is usually sharp and intense.

Traditionally, a physician may decide to treat the pain and discomfort of bursitis with medication. Weight loss to minimize load on the joint and surrounding tissues may also be recommended. A physical therapist can play an important role in the design of a safe, effective exercise program to strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility without pain and discomfort.


Prevention with Physical Therapy

A vicious cycle of pain and inflammation can result in progressive joint stiffness and muscle weakness, as the body tries to limit the extent of pain associated with bursitis. When pain levels subside, a physical therapist can help the individual restore mobility and strength.

The first step with physical therapy is a detailed evaluation to determine the extent of motion, strength, flexibility and the status of tissues surrounding the joint. This may require advanced tests. After gathering the right information, the therapist can plan a safe, effective exercise program to help the individual

recover as soon as possible. It’s important to maintain full range of motion in the hip joint, and strengthen the surrounding muscles after a period of warm up and stretching. Certain postures may need to be avoided. All of this will be outlined and documented by the physical therapist, who will guide the patient throughout the recovery process.

The primary objective of physical therapy is to reduce pain by improving mobility and restoring muscle balance gradually. Supervised exercise is important in the early stages, followed by a progressive home exercise program consisting of hip strengthening exercises. The intensity of these exercises will be judged by the physical therapist.


Physical Therapy Can Kick Start Healing

If you or someone you know is suffering from hip pain, a physical therapist can diagnose the condition to determine whether bursitis is a likely cause.

Since the hip is a major weight bearing joint, it is important to treat hip bursitis as quickly as possible. Left untreated, the condition can become extremely painful and trigger low back pain and postural imbalances.

Your physical therapist program may suggest mobility exercises like bicycling and strengthening exercises like leg raises, — depending on your current condition. It is highly recommended that you consult your physical therapist before beginning any exercises if you have hip pain. This will minimize stress on inflamed tissues and help you avoid pain and further injury.

Stop the frustrating cycle of pain and inactivity. Call us today for an assessment. Don’t let hip pain get in the way of a healthy, active lifestyle.