Physical Therapy After Surgery

Physical Therapy After Joint Surgery Is Essential

No matter what type of surgery you’re recovering from—whether it’s a partial knee replacement or a total hip replacement—undergoing physical therapy after surgery is essential to maximize your physical potential and accelerate your recovery. In this month’s blog post, Dr. Nathan Turnbull reviews the benefits of rehab after joint surgery and what to expect. 

There’s a limited amount of time immediately after your surgery in which you can restore the range of motion in your new joint. If you don’t move and engage in physical therapy, however, scar tissue develops that restricts movement and your muscles weaken. The function of your new joint depends on strengthening the surrounding muscles. 

Benefits of Physical Therapy After Joint Surgery 

If you’re thinking of having surgery, you’re probably also thinking about the recovery process. Studies indicate that patients who start physical therapy on the day of their surgery see better overall results and a quicker recovery than those who start later. Benefits include: 

  • Reduced pain, swelling, and inflammation 
  • Accelerated wound healing and minimize scarring 
  • Improved circulation, range of motion, and strength 
  • Improved functional mobility of everyday activities such as climbing stairs and getting in and out of a car 

Physical Therapy After Surgery 

Physical therapy begins immediately after surgery, typically within several hours of your surgical procedure. Getting the joint moving after surgery is important to start getting the blood flowing and the muscles moving to prevent scar tissue from forming and to prevent blood clots. For knee and hip replacements, your physical therapist begins by helping you walk and teaching you how to use your crutches or walker. You may also learn some gentle range-of-motion and strengthening exercises that can be performed in bed or while sitting in a chair. 

At Home Physical Therapy  

Once at home, you’ll need to continue the home exercises taught to you after surgery. Your doctor may recommend other exercises that improve your strength, range of motion, gait, and balance.  

Outpatient Physical Therapy 

Depending on your procedure, outpatient physical therapy may be needed. Outpatient sessions typically include range-of-motion, stretching, strengthening, and weight-bearing exercises that gradually place more demands on your body. You may also work to incorporate activity-specific rehabilitation, adding exercises that restore the strength and skills you need to return to work or get back to sports. 

If you’re diligent about following your exercise routine, you can be ready to return to your normal daily life with only a few limitations on high-impact activities when your physical therapy sessions end.