• Bernard P. Kemker, MD

Why Post-Operative Physical Therapy is a Must?

Updated: Jul 25

Every patient’s goal is to recover quickly and completely from the surgery so that they can get back to their normal life. Unfortunately, some people do not understand the importance of physical therapy after surgery and how much they can benefit from it.

Physical Therapy after Surgery | Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Why physical therapy is important after surgery?

What a patient does after surgery is almost as crucial as the surgery itself, because physical therapy improves your overall health after surgery. When patients stay in bed following surgery, they lose muscle strength, flexibility, and heart and lung capacity because of the lack of mobilization and physical activity. Supervised physical therapy can potentially restore muscle strength and flexibility so that you can have a better outcome from your surgery.


The following are some of the benefits you can get from a guided physical therapy program after the surgery:


Strengthen your muscles

Inactivity during the postoperative recovery leads to weakened muscles that easily become stiff and prone to further injury. Physical therapy can help strengthen your muscles to regain mobility and endurance. Moreover, exercises can improve the ability to perform a wide variety of your daily activities.


Get your bone density back

Bone mineral content (of the particular extremity) decreases in patients after surgery due to prolonged immobilization, which is known as disuse osteopenia. Physical therapy accelerates the process of restoring the bone minerals, resulting in increased metabolic bone markers and bone resorption.


Improve blood circulation

Blood carries oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body, which can help alleviate inflammation and give a boost to your healing process. Apart from the benefit of improved blood circulation, tailored movement exercises done after surgery with a physical therapist remarkably decrease the risk for infection, contractures, and blood clots.


Minimize scar tissue formation

After a surgery or an open injury for that matter, scar tissue formation and soft-tissue contracture are inevitable as it is a part of our body’s natural healing process. A trained physical therapist can perform many types of tissue mobilization techniques, including massage and ultrasound therapy, to soften the scar tissues and return patients to normal flexibility.


Reduce or eliminate pain and swelling

Swelling after surgery is normal and it can compress the nerves causing pain. Exercises and movement done during the rehabilitation period can inherently help you decrease the swelling, promotes healing, improves mobility, and reduce overall pain.


Improve balance, coordination, and flexibility

The muscles become tight and stiff after surgery, which makes you prone to falling. Gentle stretching exercises are among the first activities introduced after surgery and are designed to keep vulnerable muscles limber. As it usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for the soft tissue to heal, it is necessary to participate in therapeutic activities for at least that long to keep our muscles flexible to achieve enhanced mobility.


Takeaway

It is crucial that you educate yourself on why physical therapy is important and how much you can benefit from it, for a safe and faster recovery. Patients who understand the commitment and importance of physical therapy will do far better than those who don’t. If you are still concerned about going through physical therapy, then consult your orthopedic surgeon and/or a certified physical therapist to get better clarity.



Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.

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