Preventing Hip Surgery with Physical Therapy


I want to talk to you about preventing hip surgery with physical therapy. One of our main goals in physical therapy is to get you back to full function as quickly as possible.

When it comes to hip surgeries, they usually fall into one of two categories. It’s usually something that’s traumatic and maybe sports-related, like a labral tear repair. Or it could be a last resort after long-term wear and tear due to hip arthritis. That kind of injury may lead to a hip replacement.

Using PT to Ward Off Hip Surgery

One thing I always tell my patients is if you begin to have pain and it’s not improving after about a week, I do want you to reach out to a medical professional so we can try to get a jump on it before any compensations become evident. As a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist, I know how important this is.

How the Body Compensates and Copes with Injuries

Our body is very good at getting the job done, but however, this could result in your gait changing. That means that you’re going to start to walk a little bit funny. You might not even start to notice it at first, but you might have a family member or friend who notices that you’re limping a little bit and points that out.

Whenever we have pain and inflammation, our body does one of two things. It makes your joints or muscles tight so that they can’t move very much. Or it makes them weak so that you can’t move very much. It’s our job to let the body know if this is actually a safe and appropriate reaction or just a compensation that we need to nip in the bud as quickly as possible.

Some of the symptoms that people report when it comes to hip pain include:

  • Pain that gets worse with prolonged walking
  • Feeling very weak after climbing stairs to the point that you’re pulling yourself up that railing
  • Feeling inflammation in the groin area or out on the side of the hip

If you look at the anatomy of the hip, the hip joint actually sits in the crease of your thigh next to the body. A lot of people feel like your hip joint sits on the outside of your thigh, like when you put your hand on your hip, but it’s actually in the crease. We use this type of information in physical therapy to help determine where the pain is coming from. Is it a soft tissue pain, or is it a joint?

Signs That Help Us Identify Where Pain Is Coming From

Some of the ways you describe your pain to us can help guide us in the right direction. Also, the activities that limit you at home can guide us in the right direction. Do you have difficulty getting dressed, standing on one leg or maybe getting in and out of a car seat or out of your chair?

You might notice, “Oh, I feel very stiff in that hip crease, and then I can stand there a second or walk it off in a couple steps and things start to get better.”

These are some of the signs that you might have. I do want you to take action sooner rather than later and get yourself into a physical therapy office for an evaluation and treatment so that we can look at the muscles and the joints. We’re also going to check your flexibility and strength. We’ll check your alignment to make sure you’re not contributing to any wear and tear that could lead to arthritis or hip replacement surgery.

Athletes and Hip Injuries

In my practice, I certainly have runners, marathon runners, ultra-marathon runners who may have worn their labrum through chronic wear and tear. The labrum is the cartilage that lines that socket in the hip’s ball and socket joint. They might be a candidate for a labrum repair at some point.

Hockey players are another type of athlete I often will see that have labral issues.

Keeping You as Strong as Possible with Physical Therapy

We want you to be as strong as possible if you do have to experience surgery. It will never hurt to be proactive and try to address hip issues before surgery. Getting physical therapy as soon as a problem shows up might even help prevent surgery.

If there’s anything else we can do for you, please let us know. If you are interested in how physical therapy can help you stay active and strong, call our front office for an evaluation or complimentary consultation. Call us at (925) 284-3840 today!


Lauren Masi is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, board-certified clinical specialist and certified athletic trainer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physiological science from UCLA, a master’s degree in physical therapy from CSU Northridge, and a doctorate from the University of St. Augustine. As owner of Lafayette Physical Therapy and Bay Area Physical Therapy, she has assembled a skilled team to provide highly personalized and effective care. Lauren’s extensive career encompasses expertise in various physical therapy techniques, including Mulligan and Paris methods, myofascial release, and spinal mobilization. Lauren enjoys horseback riding and family time when not treating patients.

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