Pre-surgical rehabilitation is prescribed by many orthopedic surgeons as a way to improve the outcome of your surgery. Studies have shown that recovery time following surgery can be significantly decreased when physical therapy is initiated 4-6 weeks prior to surgery.
A pre-operative rehab program can physically and mentally prepare your body for surgery. It can decrease pain as well as increase mobility and strength. In fact, in some cases, it can even prevent surgery altogether.
Conservative management with physical therapy can decrease medical costs for patients by eliminating the costs associated with surgery and missed time off work. If surgery is unavoidable, pre-surgical therapy is still beneficial.
Six benefits of pre-operative rehab:
- Improves outcomes: The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) states that receiving PT before surgery can improve the overall outcome of the surgery. The more range of motion and strength you have going into surgery, the more likely your surgery will be successful and your recovery time will be shorter.
- Faster recovery time: During pre-op rehab, you will learn many of the strengthening and stretching exercises you will need to do during your post-op rehab. Working with your physical therapist before surgery, you are helping your body get used to those movements so your recovery time will be quicker following surgery
- Reduces complications: Pre-op rehab incorporates targeted exercises to help increase your strength and endurance. This can lead to an improved immune response, which can significantly decrease your chance of infection following surgery.
- Reduces pain: Pre-op rehab can reduce your pain through various physical therapy treatments including manual therapy and modalities including electrostimulation
- Increases stamina: Surgery is a planned trauma to the body; therefore loss of strength and endurance is inevitable as your body is recovering. However, you can decrease the total amount of strength you lose by increasing your stamina through pre-op rehab activities performed before the operation.
- Improves mental preparation: Going into surgery with less anxiety will facilitate a smoother recovery process. During pre-op rehab, your physical therapist will go over with you what to expect in your physical therapy treatments following surgery including where you may feel pain and ways to avoid compensating for it. The therapist will also address any concerns you may have, whether it be fear of length of recovery time or how to use crutches for the first time.
Post Surgical Rehabilitation
Physical therapy is usually indicated following orthopedic surgery to facilitate a quicker and smooth recovery. Depending on the surgery, treatment can start anywhere from a day after surgery to weeks later. After most orthopedic surgeries, your body will not naturally regain its normal motion and strength back without specific retraining.
Physical therapists are specifically trained to help restore your range of motion and strength without compensation.
Following a comprehensive evaluation by the physical therapist, an individualized plan of care will be set in order to minimize the adverse effects associated with surgery. Goals will include decreasing pain and swelling, while at the same time working towards restoring normal mobility and strength.
In addition, the therapist will set functional goals with you related to returning you to your normal daily activities and preventing re-injury during the healing process. The therapist will then develop a specific home exercise program, which is monitored and updated as your mobility and strength increase over time.
Post-op rehab is often divided into distinct phases. The first comes immediately after surgery when the body part may be immobilized and while pain and swelling are most pronounced.
Then a series of progressive exercises are initiated to help restore your range of motion, stability, and strength. The final step and ultimate goal is to return you back to your prior activity level. Post-operative treatments can include any combination of the following:
- Pain control including modalities such as ice, heat, and electrical stimulation
- Manual therapy techniques
- Home exercise instruction
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Posture, balance, and coordination training
- Gait analysis and training
For your pre or post-surgical needs, contact In Motion Physical Therapy in Chicago, IL to schedule an appointment so we can help you get back to your normal daily routine as quickly as possible!