Who needs physical therapy after orthopedic surgery?
The short answer is: everyone. Anyone who undergoes orthopedic surgery – whether it’s total or partial joint replacement, ligament or tendon reconstruction, spine surgery, or something else – will benefit from post-operative physical therapy. In fact, your ability to regain motion and strength will likely depend upon it. Physical therapy after your procedure can be the difference between a successful surgery and a failed surgery.
How soon will it begin?
Physical therapy may be the last thing you feel like doing after orthopedic surgery. After all, why push your body when it’s already down? Yet research shows that performing exercises after surgery, while they may involve some initial discomfort, will benefit your body and promote healing in the long run. In most cases, you can even maximize results by starting physical therapy as soon as possible.
Depending on your surgery, your physical therapy may start a few hours later to a few days later. If you know you will be on medication that could alter your alertness, consider asking a friend or family member to take notes during your session about exercises and recommendations.
What will it include?
Your physical therapist will work with you and your surgeon to match your surgery with the most appropriate therapy for you. You will likely be given a series of progressively challenging exercises to restore range of motion, stability, and strength. You will also work with your physical therapist to determine short- and long-term goals to put you on the fastest path to recovery.
During this time, it is critical to follow your physical therapist’s recommendations and stay positive to promote the best possible results. The success of your recovery will depend on your ability to commit and adhere to the exercises prescribed to you.
What are the benefits?
As your body heals, physical therapy will prevent blood clots from forming, restore muscle strength, improve flexibility, and restore your range of motion. It will also keep you from further injury so that you don’t wind up back in the hospital. Lastly, it can improve your pain levels and reduce the chance of scar tissue formation.