Physical Therapy is often only considered after an orthopedic surgery. However, there is mounting evidence pointing to the benefit of pre-operative Physical Therapy. In the case of an impending total knee replacement, recent studies have shown as little as 1 or 2 visits decrease post-operative care by 29%, or a cost savings to the patient of more than $1000.00 per individual. Preparing the area around the damaged tissue prior to surgical intervention leads to faster recover times, better muscle recruitment, less pain, fewer visits, and a faster return to your life. Pre-operative therapy allows us to better understand the movement patterns or injuries which produced the need for surgery in the first place.
Some orthopedic surgeries that may benefit from pre-operative Physical Therapy include total knee arthroplasty/replacement, total hip arthroplasty/replacement, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair, rotator cuff repair, labral tear procedures, total shoulder arthroplasty/replacement, and any non-emergency back or neck procedures. The physiological benefits of the therapy include decreasing swelling, increasing circulation, decreasing pain, strengthening surrounding muscles, and beginning the process of tissue remodeling including neuroplasticity to improve function between the brain and the affected area.
Many times patients don’t fully understand the surgical procedure they are about to undergo. Often times visiting a surgeon is a scary proposition. You usually have to wait up to a few months and when you do have the consult, so much information is thrown at you that not all of it may stick. Patients want to know how involved the procedure will be and what to expect from the post-op recovery process. Recovering from an injury and surgery has a psychological component in addition to the obvious physical aspect. As we like to say, “there’s a brain attached to the person,” meaning, your emotional state after surgery and how you are able to process and proceed while in pain is a key to recovery that is often overlooked.
So it would be a good idea to build report with your Physical Therapist and Assistants before the surgery. If you have the opportunity to work with your providers for at least a few sessions, when you return to therapy after the procedure it will put you at ease and allow you to progress more quickly. A lot of Physical Therapy is built on trust. If you can establish trust between you and your Physical Therapist before the surgery then you should expect less stress, less pain, and a better outcome.
Physical therapy before a surgical procedure can be of great benefit to your recovery. Talk with your physician about pre-operative Physical Therapy and feel free to call or email us any questions. We are here for you, before and after your surgery. Let us help you advance beyond expectations!
Joshua C. Anderson, PTA, CKTP, CCI, Cert. ASTYM
Bradford L. Bentley, DPT, OCS, CSCS, MDT, CMP, Cert. ASTYM