You’re probably familiar with the benefits of physical therapy in rehabilitating soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries.
However, are you aware that getting physical therapy after surgery is not only beneficial but supported by solid scientific facts?
After an operation of any type, your connective tissues, muscles, and bones gradually undergo natural healing over the weeks and months after your surgery.
But to experience complete recovery – without complications like scar tissue and overly-tight muscles you need physical therapy.
Because physical therapy helps to restore normal functioning and allows you to enjoy a much faster recovery time. To do this, we create a scientifically customized exercise plan for you.
Your plan is specific to your surgery and your presenting symptoms/needs. This plan helps you regain the balance, mobility, and control needed to get back to a healthy life.
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What Can Physical Therapy Do For You?
Some of the benefits and the many reasons why people choose to have physical therapy after an operation are:
For any muscle, bone, or connective tissue and your whole body to recover well after surgery, you must get proper blood circulation flowing.
Physical therapy enhances blood circulation to the operated area and throughout your entire body. Blood contains all the essential nutrients and oxygen that hasten recovery, reduce fatigue, and relieve pain and inflammation.
Good blood flow can also help to prevent post-surgical complications like blood clots.
Improved functions of muscles:
One of the most critical issues to deal with after surgery is tense and stiff muscles. This tension is where physical therapy steps up to the plate and helps to deal with and resolve these issues to prevent issues in the future.
Your physical therapist will recommend stretching movements specific to you to improve your muscle functionality.
These muscle stretching exercises improve your performance, endurance, and overall functionality.
We also work to restrengthen weakened muscles that result directly from the surgery or from the period of convalescence you must endure after surgery.
Striking the right balance:
Generally, after surgery, many patients struggle to maintain their balance and are at risk of falling. However, physical therapy has special movements and exercises that help to keep your balance without the fear of having a fall.
Improved range of motion:
Another drawback of undergoing surgery is that, in some instances, it can restrict movement. If you have this issue after surgery, you will benefit tremendously from physical therapy sessions.
In addition, subject to your physical requirements, you can use various mobility-assisting devices, like crutches and canes, to help with recovery.
Better pain management:
One of the biggest concerns for most patients is worrying that post-surgery physical therapy will increase pain.
However, contrary to this, physical therapy aids in better pain management because the movements and exercises improve function and reduce inflammation.
Improved core strength:
The mid-section, or your “core," is one of the most critical sections of your body. It is the core muscles that play a pivotal role in helping to maintain stability and prevent injuries.
You can strengthen your core through targeted movements and exercises to assist in quicker recovery after surgery and overall better health.
Working on your core also helps to correct your posture, which can suffer after surgery, especially if you have spinal or abdominal surgery.
Many people lose their confidence after surgery and become anxious about performing certain tasks or participating in activities.
We help you regain your confidence and support you in performing these tasks and activities (whatever they are for you) without fear.
By going through this process, you also regain independence and reduce reliance on carers, friends, and family members.
Prevent infection and/or pressure sores:
After severe illness and major surgeries requiring you to rest in bed for long periods. You can become vulnerable to pressure sores that can become infected.
Careful mobilization with physical therapy can help prevent these issues.
Better heart and lung function:
It isn't just your muscles that are affected after surgery. Your heart and lungs are also under immense pressure from the surgery and as part of the healing process.
Anaesthesia, pain medication, and surgery can increase lung secretions.
Physical therapy can help move these secretions to prevent them from becoming a chest infection and improve your lung capacity and oxygen saturation.
Why Mobility After Any Surgery Is Critical
If you're planning surgery and wondering whether physical therapy is necessary, it's a resounding "yes!" from us. Don’t skip it.
Your body will thank you for it later. But don’t just take our word for it.
Medical studies conducted in the senior age group have found that lack of mobility after surgery is one of the principal causes of complications, lack of functionality, and weakness of muscles.
When you remain in bed post-surgery, your lung and heart capacities reduce because of inactivity. You also lose muscle strength.
The most effective way to prevent this deterioration is to start a well-planned physical therapy regimen.
One of the ways that physical therapy can benefit you is by helping you to recover lost strength and get back to a routine.
But instead of doing it alone, we support you through the process in a controlled and safe environment under the supervision of a physical therapist.
This support and progressive exercise are beneficial as they improve your overall quality of life and help you achieve and maintain great health.
In the weeks and months after your operation and into the future (if you keep up the exercises and come back to visit us now and then).
But one of the most significant benefits of physical therapy after surgery is pain management - without using opioids.
Opioids and other pain medications can be addictive and come with a whole host of unpleasant side effects like constipation and stomach upset.
Physical therapy helps you reduce your usage or avoid them altogether.
In addition, we know that any physical activity improves your psychological and emotional state, which can suffer after major surgery and during convalescence.
So, physical therapy and activity can also boost your mood and overall sense of well-being because it releases endorphins – the feel-good hormones.
What Surgeries Benefit From Post-operative Physical Therapy?
Some of the surgeries that benefit from post-operative physical therapy are:
Surgery for the back:
Any kind of back surgery, like a disk or spinal fusion, is complex and delicate. So physical therapy under supervision is integral to recovery after back surgery.
After major back surgery, your physical therapist will work with you to improve circulation and spinal mobility through gradual stretching and strengthening exercises.
In any joint replacement, especially shoulder, hip, and knee replacement surgery, extensive physical therapy is mandatory for complete recovery.
To aid recovery and help you restore function in the joint. Your physical therapist will create a tailor-made PT program to help you get back to your normal routine as quickly as possible.
Evidence suggests that undergoing physical therapy in a controlled manner after any cardiac surgery can prevent cardiopulmonary complications in the long term.
Physical therapy after heart surgery includes a low-impact supervised physical therapy program that improves health and leads to faster healing.
If you need surgery for an ACL ligament rupture or torn meniscus, physical therapy is an absolute must for good recovery and function after the operation.
Research has indicated that patients that undertake physical therapy after knee surgeries heal faster and prevent the reoccurrence of injuries by improving hamstring and quadricep strength.
What Does Physical Therapy After Surgery Involve?
Nowadays, most surgeons recommend physical therapy a day or two after surgery. Sometimes even earlier – on the day of the operation, depending on what you've done. But regardless of what type of surgery you have.
Physical therapy after surgery initially involves basic movements like stretching and flexing – followed by a gradual increase in intensity in the latter stages of recovery.
As trained post-surgery physical therapists, we know how to identify and gently push your limits (even when you’re reluctant) while ensuring that it is safe.
Some of the movements we include in our post-surgery sessions include:
To learn more about how we can help you after surgery.
Book a free Discovery Visit to find out exactly what physical therapy after surgery involves and how it can help you recover quickly and prevent future injuries.