In Vivo Hip Joint Loading during Post-Operative Physiotherapeutic ExercisesReport as inadecuate

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After hip surgery, it is the orthopedist’s decision to allow full weight bearing to prevent complications or to prescribe partial weight bearing for bone ingrowth or fracture consolidation. While most loading conditions in the hip joint during activities of daily living are known, it remains unclear how demanding physiotherapeutic exercises are. Recommendations for clinical rehabilitation have been established, but these guidelines vary and have not been scientifically confirmed. The aim of this study was to provide a basis for practical recommendations by determining the hip joint contact forces and moments that act during physiotherapeutic activities.


Joint contact loads were telemetrically measured in 6 patients using instrumented hip endoprostheses. The resultant hip contact force, the torque around the implant stem, and the bending moment in the neck were determined for 13 common physiotherapeutic exercises, classified as weight bearing, isometric, long lever arm, or dynamic exercises, and compared to the loads during walking.


With peak values up to 441%BW, weight bearing exercises caused the highest forces among all exercises; in some patients they exceeded those during walking. During voluntary isometric contractions, the peak loads ranged widely and potentially reached high levels, depending on the intensity of the contraction. Long lever arms and dynamic exercises caused loads that were distributed around 50% of those during walking.


Weight bearing exercises should be avoided or handled cautiously within the early post-operative period. The hip joint loads during isometric exercises depend strongly on the contraction intensity. Nonetheless, most physiotherapeutic exercises seem to be non-hazardous when considering the load magnitudes, even though the loads were much higher than expected. When deciding between partial and full weight bearing, physicians should consider the loads relative to those caused by activities of daily living.

Author: Verena Schwachmeyer , Philipp Damm, Alwina Bender, Jörn Dymke, Friedmar Graichen, Georg Bergmann



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