What Should I Expect from Hip Physical Therapy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2019
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Hip physical therapy is a form of physical therapy which is designed to help a patient with an injured hip. It can be conducted in the wake of a hip injury or a hip surgery as part of the healing process, or to address a congenital problem with the hip which could benefit from physical therapy. Since the hip is a rather critical part of the system used to walk, one goal of hip physical therapy is to help a patient learn to walk or retain the ability to walk.

The first step in hip physical therapy is evaluation. The physical therapist will usually review the patient's medical file to learn more about the issue, and may talk with the patient's doctor. The therapist also meets with the patient to assess the patient's current condition, and to talk about goals. Different patients may have different goals, and it is important to incorporate goals into the physical therapy treatment plan.

After evaluation, the physical therapist can develop a treatment plan for the patient. Hip physical therapy often starts as soon as possible after an incident or surgery so that the patient's muscles do not have time to atrophy. The physical therapist works with the patient to strengthen the muscles in the hip, to learn to move the hip safely, and to help the brain re-learn the mechanics of motion, if necessary.


Exercises can include gentle stretching, working in a pool to reduce the load on the hip while exercising, walking, yoga, and other activities. Hip physical therapy may also include massage, if the physical therapist believe it would be beneficial, along with regular consultations about pain levels and pain management. If the physical therapy is extremely painful, it may not be beneficial, and if a patient is experiencing recurrent pain, the treatment plan may require adjustment to address this problem.

Another aspect of physical therapy is work done at home to keep the hip strong and stable. It can also include working with assistive devices like canes and walkers. The patient may need such devices for life, or they may be used during therapy for added stability, with the goal of eventually walking without assistance.

The length of hip physical therapy varies, depending on the issue. Some patients need intensive physical therapy for months, while others may require a few weeks of intermittent appointments. It is a good idea to discuss the potential length of a treatment program during evaluation.



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