Physical therapy is typically prescribed following an orthopedic surgery. Therapy can start as early as a few days after surgery in order to facilitate an efficient recovery. The ability of a patient to regain strength and motion after surgery will depend on physical therapy. The patient can’t regain normal range of motion and strength without specific retraining of muscles.
Orthopedic Surgeries on the knee, shoulder, hip, wrist, hand, foot, ankle, neck, and spine are examples of types of surgery that will require being seen by a physical therapist.
After a thorough initial evaluation by a physical therapist, the patient will be educated on how to combat the adverse effects of surgery such as pain and swelling as well as to restore normal movement, flexibility and function while preventing re-injury during the recovery process. The therapist and patient will work together to establish goals related to resuming normal daily activities. The therapist will then design a personalized exercise program.
Generally, post-operative patients attend physical 2-3 times per week. Specific protocols based on the type of surgery performed are followed. Immediately after surgery, treatment is hands-on working on the body part while pain and swelling subside. Following this stage is strength training. This stage of treatment adds in a series of exercises that progresses in difficulty as the patient regains strength, range of motion, and stability. The end goal of post-surgical rehabilitation is to return the patient to the level of activity they had before injury occurred.
Physical therapy treatments include:
- Manual therapy techniques
- Home exercise Instruction
- Flexibility exercises
- Exercises for strengthening muscles
- Pain management using modalities (ice, heat, electrical stimulation)
- Gait training