The Most Common Mistakes After a Hip Labral Repair Surgery: What to Avoid

After undergoing a labral repair surgery, it is common for patients to experience a range of emotions and physical changes. While we’re hopeful your surgery was successful in repairing the labrum, it is important for patients to be aware of the most common mistakes that can occur during the recovery process. These mistakes can lead to complications, prolong the healing process, or worse, cause the surgery to fail.

The Most Common Mistakes After a Hip Labral Repair Surgery

Some of the most mistakes are overexertion, returning to pre-surgery activities too soon, not performing your physical therapy, and staying in aggravating positions too long, such as sitting.

Patients may feel like they are ready to return to their normal activities, but it is important to gradually increase activity levels. Overexertion can cause the labrum to tear again, leading to further surgery.

Undergoing surgery after a hip labral tear is a significant step toward restoring hip health and function. However, it is essential for patients to be aware of the most common mistakes that can occur during the recovery process.

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on these mistakes, empowering patients with the knowledge to navigate their recovery journey successfully.

Common Mistakes After A Hip Scope

After a labral repair surgery, following the doctor’s instructions and taking care of the affected area is important. However, some patients may make common mistakes that can hinder their recovery process. This section will discuss some of the most common mistakes patients make after a labral repair surgery and how to avoid them.

Returning to Post-Surgery Activities Too Soon

One of the most common mistakes patients make after a labral repair surgery is resuming normal activities too soon. It is important to give the body enough time to heal and recover before engaging in any strenuous activities.

Patients should avoid lifting heavy objects, running, or jumping for at least six weeks after surgery. They should also avoid any activity that puts stress on the hip joint.

Most surgeons may even restrict your weight-bearing abilities to toe-touch weight-bearing during the first 6 weeks to prevent putting excessive pressure through the surgical leg.

This can be challenging because life doesn’t all of a sudden pause once you’ve had surgery.

The 3 most common activities that people start too soon after a labral repair is:

  • Lifting, such as at work or at home
  • Running before getting strength symmetry back
  • squatting too deep to grab items or kids from the floor

You may still have a family member to take care of or a job to perform to make sure you’re financially covered. It can be extremely challenging for those with young children because you may not be able to pick them up.

However, it is extremely important to follow your early precautions.

It’s challenging to modify picking up your kids or tell your boss that you have to take more breaks after surgery, but, at the same time, you don’t want to have to repeat surgery of this magnitude again.

Not Taking Physical Therapy Seriously

Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process after labral repair surgery. However, some patients may not take it seriously or may not follow through with their exercises.

The single most important aspect of your recovery after having a good surgeon is to perform your home exercise program as prescribed by your PT.

If you are not compliant, this can lead to a slower recovery process and may even cause complications.

hip physical therapy

The role of physical therapy after a labral arthroscopy is to improve the range of motion, decrease muscle tightness, decrease swelling, and, most importantly, improve the strength and stability of the joint. If you don’t address each of those, it leaves your newly repaired hip at risk.

One of the main roles of physical therapy is to guide you through what exercises you can do at what point in the recovery.

Sure, you can google “best hip strengthening exercises,” but without the knowledge and expertise of what part of the recovery process you can perform such exercises, it could lead to issues.

Take physical therapy seriously; they are the only people who will catch asymmetries and know what to do and when.

Periods of Sitting Too Long

Prolonged sitting after a hip arthroscopy can have detrimental effects on your recovery due to its impact on hip joint mobility and muscle function. When you sit for an extended period, the hip joint remains in a flexed position, causing the surrounding muscles to stay in a shortened state. This can lead to muscle imbalances and tightness, restricting the range of motion in the hip joint.

Sitting for too long limits the opportunity for the joint to move through its full range of motion, which can result in stiffness, reduced flexibility, and even scar tissue formation that may impede the recovery process.

Scar tissue formation in the anterior hip capsule is quite painful and is one of the toughest things to push through in recovery.

Get up and move, walk, or change positions often. We recommend sitting for no more than 30 minutes at a time in the early stages of recovery.

Moreover, remaining sedentary for prolonged periods after a hip arthroscopy can weaken the supporting muscles around the hip joint. These muscles, including the glutes, hip flexors, and hip rotators, play a vital role in providing stability, balance, and support to the joint.

When you sit for long durations, these muscles become inactive and may gradually lose their strength and endurance. Weakened muscles can negatively affect joint stability, potentially leading to compensatory movements and placing additional stress on other areas of the body, such as the lower back or knees.

Maintaining proper muscle function and strength through regular movement and targeted exercises are essential for a successful recovery after hip arthroscopy.

Not Getting Strong Enough

Achieving normal strength after a hip labral arthroscopy is vital for several reasons, including:

  • Strengthening exercises help protect the repaired labrum
  • Strengthening helps stabilize the hip joint.
  • Strengthening exercises help decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Reduces the risk of re-tearing
  • Allows for a return to activity levels such as running, jumping, and normal walking

Numerous research studies have demonstrated significant strength deficits ranging from 11-28% years after they’ve recovered from labral surgery. This is a huge strength asymmetry.

Any strength difference greater than 10% has been shown to leave a person at risk for re-injury on the weaker side.

Firstly, regaining strength is crucial for restoring normal movement patterns and joint stability. Strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, such as the glutes, hip flexors, and hip rotators, plays a key role in supporting the joint and ensuring proper mechanics. Building strength helps to distribute the load evenly, reduce stress on the joint, and prevent further injury or complications.

glute strengthening

Secondly, returning to normal strength after a hip labral arthroscopy can significantly enhance functional abilities and quality of life. Strong hip muscles are essential for everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and maintaining balance. They also contribute to sports performance and recreational pursuits. By improving strength, you can regain the ability to engage in these activities with confidence and without limitations.

Lastly, building strength post-hip labral arthroscopy aids in preventing future injuries and minimizing the risk of recurrence. Weakness in the hip muscles can disrupt the natural joint mechanics, leading to abnormal stress and wear on the joint structures. This can increase the likelihood of further damage or degenerative conditions in the future.

Focusing on rehabilitation exercises and gradually increasing strength can address any muscle imbalances, improve joint stability, and promote long-term joint health. Investing in the recovery process and rebuilding strength is an important step towards reducing the risk of re-injury and maintaining a healthy hip joint in the long run.

Returning to Activities Without a Gradual Progression

A gradual return to activity after a labral repair surgery is crucial for a successful and sustainable recovery.

Firstly, it allows the repaired labrum and surrounding tissues to heal properly. Labral repair surgery involves the reattachment or removal of damaged tissue in the hip joint. The healing process is essential for the repaired area to regain strength and stability.

Rushing into high-impact or intense activities too soon can put excessive stress on the healing tissues, potentially leading to re-injury or compromised outcomes.

Following a gradual progression gives your body the necessary time to heal, allowing the repaired structures to regain their strength and integrity.

Secondly, a gradual return to activity helps to prevent muscle imbalances and compensatory movements. After surgery, it is common for the muscles surrounding the hip joint to become weakened or inhibited due to pain, immobilization, or the surgical procedure itself. Gradually reintroducing activity and exercise allows for a targeted rehabilitation process that focuses on rebuilding strength, restoring proper muscle function, and improving joint stability.

By starting with low-impact and controlled movements and gradually increasing intensity and load, you can ensure that all muscle groups are strengthened evenly, reducing the risk of imbalances that could lead to further issues or joint instability.

A gradual return to activity is essential for a labral repair surgery to optimize healing, minimize complications, and restore full function to the hip joint. Following the guidance of your healthcare team, including surgeons and physical therapists, and progressing at a pace that allows for adequate healing and muscle recovery will significantly increase the chances of a successful long-term outcome. Patient adherence to the recommended rehabilitation plan is key to achieving a safe and sustainable return to normal activities and sports.

Preventing Mistakes After Surgery

After a labral repair surgery, it is essential to take the necessary precautions to avoid any complications and ensure a successful recovery. Here are some tips to help prevent mistakes during the healing process.

Preparing for Surgery

Preparing for a hip arthroscopy involves several important steps to ensure a smooth and successful surgery and recovery.

Firstly, focusing on improving the range of motion and increasing hip strength can significantly improve outcomes. Engaging in exercises recommended by your healthcare team, such as stretching and targeted strengthening exercises, can help optimize the condition of the hip joint and surrounding muscles prior to surgery. This can aid in faster post-operative rehabilitation and enhance the overall recovery process.

Secondly, getting the necessary equipment before surgery is essential for a comfortable recovery at home. This may include items such as crutches, a walker, or a raised toilet seat. Your surgeon or healthcare team will guide you on the specific equipment you may need based on your circumstances. By obtaining the required equipment in advance, you can ensure it is readily available and properly set up at home, minimizing post-surgery logistical challenges.

Lastly, preparing your living environment and arranging support are crucial aspects of pre-surgery preparation. Cooking meals and freezing them ahead of time can be helpful since mobility and energy levels may be limited during the recovery period.

Additionally, lining up necessary rides to and from the hospital or surgical center is important, as you will not be able to drive immediately after the procedure. It is also advisable to have someone available to assist you with daily activities, such as household chores or personal care, during the initial days or weeks following the surgery. Having a support system in place can alleviate stress and ensure a smoother recovery process.

By focusing on improving your range of motion and increasing strength, gathering necessary equipment, and preparing your living environment, you can set yourself up for a more comfortable and successful hip arthroscopy experience. Remember to consult with your healthcare team for personalized guidance and recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Managing Pain and Swelling

Managing swelling after hip arthroscopy is an important aspect of the recovery process. Swelling is a natural response to surgery and can be reduced through various techniques.

First and foremost, movement and gentle exercises play a crucial role in minimizing swelling. Engaging in the prescribed range of motion exercises, as recommended by your healthcare team, helps promote blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, which can reduce swelling. It is important to start with gentle movements and gradually increase intensity as guided by your surgeon or physical therapist.

Compression is another effective method for managing swelling after hip arthroscopy. Wearing compression garments or using compression wraps or bandages can help reduce fluid buildup and promote proper circulation. Compression garments should be properly fitted and worn according to the instructions.

Applying ice packs or cold therapy to the affected area can also assist in reducing swelling. We have started to go away from icing as much as we used to in healthcare due to the lack of evidence that it changes the total amount of swelling. Ice is great for pain control, though, and still remains a good option in the acute stage of recovery.

Engaging in light activity as allowed, such as walking in the pool or gentle stationary biking, can also aid in managing swelling. Light activity promotes blood flow and can help prevent blood pooling and fluid retention. Balancing rest and movement is crucial to allow for proper healing while also managing to swell effectively. Modifying your activity and listening to your body are important if swelling persists or worsens despite these measures.

General Recovery Timeline A Labral Repair

The recovery timeline after a labral repair surgery can vary depending on individual factors, the extent of the injury, and the specific surgical technique used. While each person’s recovery may differ, the following provides a general overview of the different stages:

Immediate Post-Surgery

In the immediate postoperative period, the focus is on pain management and initial healing. You may experience pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Walking with crutches or a walker may be necessary, and weight-bearing restrictions may be in place. For example, some surgeons restrict you to 50% or only toe touch weight-bearing. Physical therapy usually begins within the first week or two, focusing on gentle range of motion exercises and activating the surrounding muscles.

First Month

During the first month, the emphasis is on gradually increasing mobility, reducing pain and swelling, and regaining functional activities. Physical therapy sessions become more frequent, focusing on gentle exercises to restore range of motion and improve muscle strength. You may start transitioning from using crutches or a walker to walking unassisted, and weight-bearing restrictions may be lifted gradually. Walking in the pool and using a gentle stationary bike are great activities to speed up healing in this stage.

First Six Months

At this stage, the focus is on continued rehabilitation and functional improvement. Physical therapy sessions continue to address strength, flexibility, and stability. Progress is made in increasing weight-bearing activities, balance, and coordination. Specific exercises are tailored to your individual goals and activities. By the end of the six-month period, most individuals are able to engage in low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, without issue. At this time, the focus of returning to dynamic activities such as running, jumping, and cutting has started.

First Year

Within the first year, the majority of the healing and functional recovery occurs. The emphasis shifts towards achieving full strength, stability, and range of motion. Physical therapy is likely finished or greatly reduced in frequency. You may continue to address any remaining muscle imbalances, refine movement patterns, and gradually introduce higher-impact activities. Return to sports or higher-level activities typically occurs within this timeframe.


Beyond the first year, the focus is on maintaining strength, flexibility, and overall joint health. Ongoing physical activity and exercise, as well as periodic monitoring by your healthcare team, help ensure the long-term success of the surgery. It is important to continue a well-rounded fitness program that includes strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility work to support joint health and prevent future injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions


After a labral repair surgery, patients must be careful and follow the instructions of their doctors to avoid complications. Some of the most common mistakes patients make after surgery include:

  • Not following the prescribed rehabilitation program
  • Returning to physical activity too soon
  • Ignoring pain or discomfort
  • Not taking prescribed medication
  • Failing to keep the incision site clean and dry
  • Not attending follow-up appointments

It is essential to follow the rehabilitation program to ensure the best possible outcome. Patients should avoid overexerting themselves and gradually increase their activity level as they recover.

Ignoring pain or discomfort can lead to further complications and delay the healing process. Patients must communicate with their doctor if they experience any new or worsening symptoms.

Keeping the incision site clean and dry is vital to prevent infection. Patients should follow the instructions given by their doctor regarding wound care.

Finally, attending follow-up appointments is crucial to monitor the progress of the healing process and ensure there are no complications. Patients must communicate any concerns or issues they experience during their recovery with their doctor.

By avoiding these common mistakes and following the prescribed rehabilitation program and instructions, patients can increase their chances of a successful recovery after labral repair surgery.

About the Author

Emily Chen, DPT
Emily Chen is a physical therapist with over 5 years of experience in the field. Emily is dedicated to helping her patients achieve their goals and improve their quality of life through physical therapy. She enjoys working with older athletes and has a special interest in geriatric health and rehab. She is passionate about providing individual-based care and developing individualized treatment plans. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga and cooking.

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