Early Recovery Outcomes in Patients Undergoing Contemporary Posterior Approach Total Hip Arthroplasty: Each Week Shows Progress
Background: Little is known about patients’ postoperative week-by-week progress after undergoing posterior approach total hip arthroplasty (THA) with regard to pain, function, return to work, and driving. Purpose: We sought to evaluate a large cohort of patients undergoing posterior approach THA with modified posterior hip precautions to better understand the trajectory of recovery. Methods: Patients at a single institution undergoing primary posterior approach THA by fellowship-trained arthroplasty surgeons were prospectively enrolled. Patient functional status and early rehabilitation recovery milestones were evaluated preoperatively and each week postoperatively for 6 weeks. Results: Of 312 patients who responded to weekly questionnaires, there were varying response rates per question. At 1 week after surgery, 15% (39/256) of respondents had returned to work, increasing to 57% (129/225) at week 6. At 6 weeks, 77% of patients (174/225) had returned to driving; 25% (56/225) were taking pain medication (including prescription opioids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); and 15% (34/225) were using assistive devices (down from 91%, 78%, 56%, 35%, and 27% at weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively). Average postoperative Hip dysfunction and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score for Joint Replacement and Lower Extremity Functional Scale scores were significantly higher than preoperative scores. Respondents reported significantly less pain at each week postoperatively than the previous week. Conclusion: These findings suggest that there may be an expected pathway for recovery after posterior THA using perioperative pain protocols, modified postoperative precautions, and physical therapy protocols to improve patient outcomes after THA, with most patients returning to normal at 4 weeks. Defining the expected recovery timeline may help surgeons in counseling patients preoperatively and guiding their recovery.