Turning In or Out: Adduction Versus Abduction

Hip replacement

One of the key functional standards in the post-operative hip replacement patient is to keep the leg in alignment with the hip. In fact, you don’t want the leg to rotate internally as it can cause misalignment of the newly replaced hip joint. An abduction pillow is often used to actually keep the legs slightly apart. However, the terms we commonly use, abduction and adduction may, not be familiar to the patient or family.

A simple way to teach your patient   about these terms is to start with the term abduction. This term has meaning to the lay person in terms of a pet or child being abducted or “taken away”. So abduction means to keep the legs apart or “away” from each other. Through simple deduction, adduction means the opposite- to draw inward, or closer to the body.

When a patient understands the terms, then the exercises or restrictions used post-operatively begin to have more meaning to them. As you educate patients, don’t assume that the words abduction and adduction have meaning to them. Use simple real-life examples to help them understand complex healthcare terminology.