From Physio to Patient – Recovering from Orthopaedic Hip Surgery

Anatomic Hip

Working as a physio for the past decade has allowed me to rehabilitate a huge scope of people following various orthopaedic surgeries. I have worked with these people through their struggles, triumphs and thankfully not too often some unfavourable outcomes but it has not been until I have gone through my own journey with a recent hip surgery that I can appreciate the role that we as physios play in post-surgical rehabilitation. 

I have had my fair share of injuries in my lifetime – which was part of the reason I became a physio and I can admit that I haven’t always looked after them properly. Reality certainly hit when back in August I met with an orthopaedic surgeon as my right hip was deteriorating rapidly and I was given two surgical options- try and fix and clean up what I have or replace the hip. At 35, I wasn’t ready to face having hip replacement surgery so I opted for the save approach. It quickly became obvious that this recovery wouldn’t just happen on its own and my empathy and appreciation for the struggle that I have witnessed my patients go through became obvious.

I warned anyone who knows me that I am a terrible patient- pain is not my friend and I don’t cope with not being mobile so it has not been easy. Quite frankly I haven’t coped. It has not only been the short-term recovery from the surgery but also the long-term implications and its impact. Dealing with the prospect of not being able to run or play sports again has played havoc with my mental health as exercise and sport has always been a huge part of my life and this is a very difficult situation to cope with alone. I am blessed to have a strong network of people including amazing colleagues to help me through my recovery process. The role of health professionals in recovery from not only surgery but any complaint is invaluable. It may seem like I am biased but until you go through something personally, you cannot completely appreciate the power of a helping hand to guide you, be your cheerleader and give you an objective view of your injury, especially when at times it feels like it will never get better. 

Three months down the track and it is still a daily battle with my injury. Some days I feel ‘normal’ and can largely forget that anything is wrong, other days every step I take is a struggle. Whether my hip will recover completely or not is a question I cannot answer, but what I do know is that I will continue to seek help from health professionals to ensure I can get the best outcome possible. If it means I can run around with my kids for many years to come I will do whatever I can.

Here are some key take-home messages that may help if you find yourself in a similar situation or are currently going through your own journey.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

They often say it takes a village to raise a baby well it takes a village to rehabilitate an injury. If help is offered, take it. Utilise all tools available. This includes doctors, physios, and family members. The more help you can get, the easier recovery will be.

It will take time. 

Recovering after any surgery takes a long time even just feeling better after the anaesthetic can take longer than you think. Be kind, and don’t put pressure on yourself with unrealistic expectations of where you should be as this will only create stress and potentially increase your symptoms. Focus on function as well as pain and celebrate the small wins. Although the finish line seems a long way off, if that is all you think about you will fall over or give up before you even get there.

Be consistent and diligent with your exercises. 

Your injury will not just get better on its own. There will often be compensations and changes in muscle strength due to pain that need to be addressed for the injury to heal and recover properly. Making your rehab program a priority is a good habit to start early on. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out of it.

At the end of all of this, I am hoping I can avoid having to have a hip replacement, but if this does happen, I know I have the best network of people here at One Point Health that can guide me through my rehabilitation to make sure I can get the best outcome possible.

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