Post-Surgical Physiotherapy

What Is Post-Surgical Physiotherapy?

Post-surgical physiotherapy is for anyone who is going for, or has recently had, some type of orthopaedic surgery. Some common orthopaedic surgeries include: a hip or knee replacement, an ACL repair, a rotator cuff repair, or the repair of broken bones. For all of these individuals, getting started with your physiotherapist as soon as possible after surgery will give you the best chance at regaining your pre-surgery mobility and function. From early recovery right until reaching your functional goals, your physiotherapist will make sure you progress at a rate that is appropriate for you and your stage of healing. 

Describing the problem in detail
Brace for the shoulder

When Should I Start Physiotherapy After My Surgery?

Ideally, physiotherapy begins as soon as possible after your surgery. Even if movement is extremely limited, or you are wearing a cast, making sure you are taking care of your surgical site and the surrounding joints are very important in making a full recovery. Your physiotherapist is a great resource for understanding the stages of healing, and different strategies for dealing with pain, swelling, and early mobility issues that are common after a major surgery. The sooner you begin your physiotherapy care plan, the sooner you can discuss and begin working towards your functional goals, and the greater chance you will have of achieving them. For some individuals, it is recommended that they begin seeing their physiotherapist before their surgery in order to clarify their expectations about surgery, build their strength, and plan ahead with items and strategies that are going to be important after their surgery.

What Is The Typical Structure Of A Post-Surgical Care Plan?

A post-surgical care plan will look quite different depending on the individual and the type of surgery that they’ve had. In most cases, within early stages of recovery, physiotherapy is recommended to be more frequent, approximately 2-3x/week. This will enable you and your physiotherapist to work together frequently in the stage where it is most critical to focus on making detailed and appropriate progress. Once initial healing is complete, physiotherapy can reduce to 1-2x/week, where you and your physiotherapist will work on regaining and improving your range of motion and your strength through various hands-on techniques and structured exercises. Eventually, seeing your physiotherapist once per week to continue progressing through your functional goals is usually recommended until you have returned to your normal function.

Nurse assisting patient walking frame, hip joint replacement rehabilitation
A Modern rehabilitation physiotherapy man at work with woman client

What Does Post-Surgical Physiotherapy Involve?

Generally, a post-surgical care plan involves structured progress through your post-surgery protocol at a pace which is appropriate for you. In the early stages, treatment will involve a number of pain management strategies, simple movements, and modalities (like ultrasound, IFC, acupuncture, etc.) in order to manage pain and encourage initial healing. Once early healing has progressed, more focused manual therapy, progressive exercises, and some continued modalities can all be used to help regain your strength and movement. Finally, when strength and movement are at appropriate levels, treatment can become focused on functional goals and movement to help get you back to doing the things that you love.

How Do I Get The Most Out Of My Post-Surgical Physiotherapy?

The most important factor in getting the most out of your post-surgical care plan is consistency. In order to fully re-gain your mobility and function, being committed to your care plan and sticking to your treatment and exercises will give you the best chance at achieving your goals. Generally, the more you do (within the guidelines you discuss with your physiotherapist), the better outcomes you will see, so being committed to the care plan and working your treatments and exercises into your schedule will put you in a position for success. If you are not consistent with your care plan, it is difficult to see consistency with your progress, so be sure to speak with your physiotherapist about other strategies you can do to help ensure you keep moving towards your goals.

At First Line Physiotherapy, post-surgical physiotherapy is considered part of physiotherapy assessments and treatments. If you have any other questions about post-surgical physiotherapy or would like help in deciding if First Line Physiotherapy is right for you, please contact us, and a team member would be happy to assist you.

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