On the journey toward full recovery following hip labral repair surgery, it’s important to know what to expect and how to circumvent some common post-surgery pitfalls. In Part 1, we examined two important issues: avoiding bearing weight and strengthening surrounding muscles. Now, we’ll look at three more.
Lower Back and Pelvic Pain
The muscular imbalance resulting from labral repair surgery tends to cause pain in the pelvis and lower back. Basically, what’s happening is that the spine generally has a hard time handling asymmetry well. When one leg is unable to accept weight for an extended period of time, the stronger side loads the pelvis and lower back too heavily. Rehabilitation will seek to minimize the potential for pain and long-term damage by helping the patient maximize lower back and pelvic mobility through specific exercises.
Two exercises often recommended during the rehabilitation period for restoring pelvic and lower back alignment are the “pelvic clock” and “pelvic control.” Of course, the sooner that weight-bearing capacity and strength can be restored on the surgical side, the less pain will result in the lower back and pelvis.
Time, Time, and More Time
While following post-op rehab instructions to a “T” will certainly speed the process, full recovery from hip labral repair surgery will take a long time. Even six months after surgery, many patients still experience discomfort related to the surgery. The aim is to see progress each week and each month; as long as you’re going forward instead of backward in the recovery process, you’re doing just fine.
One way to measure your progress is to keep track of the distance you can walk before experiencing pain, and then comparing your distances. As you notice even inching-along improvements, feel free to celebrate.
Especially because of the long recovery period, many patients naturally acquire habits that result in keeping their full weight off the affected leg; as a result, they’re unintentionally keeping full strength from returning to the surgical site.
For starters, you can try to be mindful of tendencies such as crossing your surgical leg over the other leg or allowing your stronger leg to bear the majority of your weight. While initial precautions need to be taken against allowing the traumatized leg to bear weight, once allowed to resume bearing weight, the patient will need to re-train the body to allow both sides to accept weight equally. The process will take time and will involve constant, conscientious practice.
Perhaps you can set a timer for yourself or post reminders around the house to check to see if you’re resorting to your leg-favoring tendencies. Just as those habits formed over time, in time they can be eliminated.
While your full recovery will be more of a journey than a destination, as long as you’re headed in the right direction, you can hold on to hope of someday regaining full, pain-free functionality of your hip and legs.
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).
Image credits: Top © Fabio Arimatea Fotografo/Fotolia. 2nd © Darren Baker/Fotolia.