By: Tyler Johnson, CCRP, SAMP
Starting a physical rehabilitation program immediately after an FHO surgery is important because it can help decrease unnecessary scar tissue and prevent a loss in joint range of motion. This differs from other orthopedic procedures because with an FHO a false joint needs to be formed. The sooner rehabilitation begins the sooner the patient will be able to build up the supporting muscles to help form that false joint.
Physical rehabilitation should start immediately post-op with cryotherapy to the incision. This can be repeated every 3-4 hours for the first three days after surgery. Massage and light passive range of motion are recommended as soon as the patient will allow it, usually 2-3 days after surgery.
Simple weight-bearing exercises like standing/weight shifting can begin one-week post-surgery to start encouraging leg use and begin the muscle-building process. Short and controlled leash walks for about five minutes at a time can also begin one-week post-op.
Once the sutures have been removed all exercise restrictions can be lifted to allow the patient to use the leg as much as possible for faster muscle building. Short leash walks should still be continued to help control leg use and ensure proper weight bearing. Hills and stairs are very beneficial to help rebuild muscles faster.
Owners should be made aware of the potential for painful muscle spasms post-op and should be encouraged to palpate the hip area daily for any changes or pain. The earlier the muscle spasms are detected and treated the less likely the patient is to have irreversible complications and severe loss in the range of motion.
If the owner and patient are able to commit to the time and added cost it is strongly recommended an in-house rehabilitation program begin as early as 1-week post-op. Beginning an in-house rehabilitation program early can help not only rebuild the muscles and form the false joint faster but it can also help with the early detection of muscle spasms or a decrease in range of motion.
The FHO procedure is still a very successful and beneficial procedure for the treatment of hip joint issues. A good post-op rehabilitation plan can really help increase success and decrease complications.