A ring of cartilage surrounding the hip socket, the hip labrum can undergo trauma as a result of either an obvious injury or chronic stress to the area. A tear to the hip labrum often manifests itself as a sharp pain in either the hip or groin area, sometimes extending down the leg toward the knee. For some reason, women have a greater tendency toward hip labral tears, which can result from anything from an automobile accident to repetitive stress via yoga or various athletic endeavors.
Regardless of the cause, the often-prescribed antidote is a fairly new orthopedic procedure called hip labral repair surgery. By repairing the labrum, the procedure, in effect, stabilizes the entire hip socket. Like many such surgeries, this one is becoming decreasingly invasive, allowing patients to exhibit smaller scars and require fewer post-op precautions. Still, it’s helpful to know exactly what to expect in the days, weeks, and months following surgery.
Taking a Break from Bearing Weight
Those recovering from hip labral repair surgery are almost always required to remain “non-weight bearing” for at least two weeks after surgery. In addition to using crutches, effective rehabilitation also requires spending time lying down for a certain amount of time each day — either on a bed or on the floor — in order to allow the hip flexor muscles to relax in a neutral position. This break from using crutches is necessary because even when a person is in an upright, non-weight-bearing position, suspending the legs requires prolonged hip flexion.
Swelling-Induced Muscle Problems
Because of the natural post-surgery swelling in the hip area, the surrounding muscles have a tendency to, in effect, shut down. As you can imagine, the results of muscular atrophy can add extra complications to recovery to full mobility.
In order to curb these negative effects of swelling, you can expect to be encouraged to do isometric exercises, shortly after surgery. (Isometric exercises are ones that require strong, motionless muscular flexion. Even though they may not look like you’re doing much, looks can be deceiving: By doing them faithfully, you are taking important steps to retain or return strength to those muscles.) By gently training the hip adductors, and hip flexors, gluteus maximus, and gluteus medius through isometrics, full recovery of the hip joint and surrounding muscles can more effectively take place.
You’re probably starting to get the idea that recovery from hip labral repair surgery is an uphill battle. If you were thinking surgery would be the end of your problems, you’re probably pretty frustrated. However, it’s always better to have realistic expectations than to set yourself up for the frustration and disappointment that come with delusions of grandeur.
Especially when it comes to labrum repair surgeries, expectation management may play an even more significant role than pain management — because frustration always brings added pain. Along that vein, we’ll look at three more significant post-surgical considerations in Part 2.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C. is a boutique physical therapy center which helps patients recover, strengthen, and return to healthy living after they travel or on a day-to-day lifestyle. Located in downtown Washington, D.C., PhysioDC is an excellent resource to contact for all joint and body pain. For more information on physical therapy for your body, visit PhysioDC at www.physiodc.com. PhysioDC is located in downtown D.C. at 1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 330 (at the corners of K Street and Connecticut Avenue NW).
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