Mistake 1: Stop all exercise.
Many people feel that if it hurts to move, then they should stop moving. Oh how wrong can they be?!
While overdoing it may be harmful, it is important to keep the hip joint moving and use the muscles as much as possible. Joints need movement to remain healthy. Without movement, they become stiffer, the connective tissue tightens and the muscles start to become weaker and atrophy. This will only make inflammation worse and speed up the degenerative process of the hip. Stopping exercise can also lead to weight gain which can increase the amount of stress on your weight-bearing joints (hips, knees, ankles).
Therefore, do not stop exercising altogether. Instead, begin a gentle exercise program as soon as possible with the aim of the progressing range of motion, strength and intensity appropriately.
Mistake 2: Wait for an MRI and/or specialist appointment.
Often, the GP diagnoses hip OA in most clients and would often send clients for imaging (X-ray, MRI) and/or refer their client to a specialist. Rarely are people referred straight to a physiotherapist. As a result, too many people choose to start physiotherapy only after they have seen the specialist or get their imaging result. However, starting physiotherapy as soon as possible has huge benefits. Allowing a physiotherapist to assess the condition and generate a tailored exercise program will help to prevent muscle wasting and prevent the progression of joint stiffness. Hands on treatment can also be utilised to help reduce pain.
So why wait?
Mistake 3: Overdo it by pushing through the pain.
On the other hand, continuing all exercise which aggravates the pain should be avoided. Doing this can make the pain worse and increase joint inflammation and degeneration. You may need to alter one or more components of your exercise regime (duration, type, intensity, frequency). By doing this, you can continue to exercise pain free.
Mistake 4: Expect that surgery will fix all your problems.
Many people choose to completely disregard physiotherapy and wait to see a surgeon who will be able to “fix” their problem. Having hip surgery is not the end of the road. Proper rehabilitation from a hip surgery is pivotal to the success of the surgery and may take many months of dedication to complete.
Prehab can also be incorporated prior to having surgery. Prehab is where an individual attends physiotherapy prior to having surgery to maximise strength and joint range of motion. Evidence strongly states the positive association between prehab and successful outcomes post-surgery.
Many people who undergo prehab even end up cancelling their surgery due to a significant improvement in strength, joint range of motion and pain along with weight loss.
Avoiding these four key mistakes and use the advice provided in this post, you can more effectively manage your hip osteoarthritis and lead an active and happier life.
Written by Nicholas Dimos (Physiotherapist)