Therapeutic Exercises for Hip Osteoarthritis

Physical therapy to treat symptoms

In this excerpt from his workshop at OPTA 2016, Dr. Tony Rocklin reviews therapeutic exercises for hip osteoarthritis that patients can perform at home to improve their mobility. Tony is a leading advocate for conservative treatment for patients with hip osteoarthritis that isn’t “drug-centric”. While the disease is degenerative and can’t be cured, the symptoms associated with it can be treated. These exercises are an important component of best practices for the conservative treatment of hip osteoarthritis. Those best practices minimize the use of medications and opioids and focus on physical therapy and therapeutic exercise to relieve the pain and improve mobility for patients.

Unlike the use of drugs, which focus just on relieving pain, physical therapy and therapeutic exercise target the source of the pain and decreasing mobility in the degenerative hip. That is the joint capsule, the deep connective tissue that surrounds the hip joint. The joint capsule helps to stabilize and control the range of motion of the hip joint. As hip OA progresses, the joint capsule becomes inflamed and very tight. This causes the femoral head to migrate superiorly and severely restricts normal movement of the hip. The capsular tightening, inflammatory reaction, and loss of range of motion increase pressure within the joint which causes immediate increased pain.

Therapeutic exercises for home

Physical therapists can use manual therapy – including long axis traction – to distract the hip, relaxing the joint capsule and surrounding tissues. This provides natural pain relief, plus improved mobility. They combine it with therapeutic exercises for hip OA that patients can do at home. This approach minimizes the use of drugs and maximizes the patient’s quality of life during that period of time – most often multiple years – between diagnosis and THR surgery.

Watch the video below. You can see other excerpts from Dr. Rocklin’s presentation here.