Hip Rehabilitation After Surgery

One of the critical success factors for a positive outcome is following the physical rehabilitation process. In order to help achieve the goals for a successful hip resurfacing procedure, you must actively participate in the rehab process and work diligently on your own, as well as with the physical therapists, to achieve optimal results.

Early Rehabilitation

Your recovery program usually begins the day after surgery. The rehabilitation team will work together to provide the care and encouragement needed during the first few days after surgery.

You may be given a device called an incentive spirometer that you inhale and exhale into. It measures your lung capacity and assists you in taking deep breaths. These exercises reduce the collection of fluid in the lungs after surgery, preventing the risk of pneumonia. Coughing is an effective tool for loosening any congestion that may build in the lungs following surgery.

The physical therapist will begin as early as 1-2 days after surgery. They will teach you some simple exercises to be done in bed that will strengthen the muscles in the hip and lower extremity. These exercises may include:

  • Gluteal Sets Tighten and relax the buttock muscles.
  • Quadricep Sets Tighten and relax the thigh muscles.
  • Ankle Pumps Flex and extend the ankles.

Your physical therapist will also teach you proper techniques to perform such simple tasks as:

  • Moving up and down in bed.
  • Going from lying to sitting.
  • Going from standing to sitting.
  • Going from sitting to lying.

Although these are simple activities, you must learn to do them safely so that the hip does not dislocate or suffer other injury.

Another important goal for early physical therapy is for you to learn to walk safely with an appropriate assistive device (usually a walker or crutches). Your surgeon will determine how much weight you can bear on your new hip, and your therapist will teach you the proper techniques for walking on level surfaces and stairs with the assistive device. Improper use of the assistive device raises the chance for accident or injury.

The occupational therapist will also visit with you to teach you how to perform activities of daily living safely. They will provide you with a list of hip precautions which are designed to protect your new hip during the first 8-12 weeks following surgery.


  • Do not bend forward to reach your feet. You must maintain a 90 degree angle between your torso and legs.
  • Do not lift your knee higher than your hip on the operated side.
  • Do not cross your legs.
  • Do not allow your legs to internally rotate (feet turned in).
  • Do not twist while lying or standing.
  • Sleep on your back with a pillow between your knees to prevent crossing.
  • Strictly observe your weight bearing precautions during standing or walking.

Also, the occupational therapist will instruct you in the proper use of various long-handled devices for activities of daily living. These devices may include the following:

  • A reacher to dress and pick things up from the floor.
  • A sock-aid that will assist in putting on socks.
  • A long-handled sponge to wash your legs and feet.
  • A leg-lifting device to move the operated leg in and out of the car or bed.
  • An elevated toilet seat so that you don’t violate your hip precautions when using the bathroom.
  • An elevated bathtub chair to fit in the shower or tub.

At Home

Following surgery, a physical therapist may help you with your rehabilitation protocol. In addition to the exercises done with the therapist, you should continue to work on the hip exercises in your free time. It is also important to continue to walk on a regular basis to further strengthen your hip muscles. An exercise and walking program helps to enhance your recovery from surgery and helps make activities of daily living easier to manage.

While at home, you will continue to walk with the assistive device unless directed by your surgeon to discontinue use. You must also remember to strictly follow the hip precautions and weight bearing instructions during the first few months following surgery. It is recommended that you not drive unless you have been approved by your doctor.

Life After Hip Resurfacing Surgery

After you have completed your hip rehabilitation, you should experience improved range of motion and have strength in your hip to return to most everyday activities. Below are a few warnings to keep in mind after your hip resurfacing surgery. Remember to listen to what your body tells you. If you begin to have pain or swelling, contact your physician for advice.

  • Take care to protect your new hip from too much stress and follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding activity level.
  • Do not perform high impact activities such as running and jumping during the first year following your surgery to allow your hip bones to heal properly. While that same study of 2,385 BIRMINGHAM HIP resurfacing patients found that less than one-half of one-percent of patients experienced a femoral neck fracture in the first five years after surgery, the average time this fracture took place was just two and a half months after their surgery. Other studies have shown a fracture rate of up to 1.4-percent.
  • Early device failure, such as breakage or loosening, may occur if you do not follow your surgeon’s limitations on activity level. Early failure may occur if you do not protect your hip from overloading due to activity level or fail to control your body weight. Accidents such as falls may also cause early device failure.