We get this question a lot: “Why should I come to physiotherapy if I am going to have surgery anyway?” Or we get people who stated that they “Wasted 3 months of recovery time because they did not get the joint surgery when they should have.” So today we are going to clear up why physiotherapy before joint surgery is a good thing.
Physiotherapy before joint surgery can:
Help heal secondary injuries
When you tear your ACL or rotator cuff you commonly do not just injure that one area of your knee or shoulder. Often there will be secondary injuries when you strain or tear ligaments, tendons, or muscles around the joint. However, when diagnosing your injury, we’ll usually focus on the primary injury or the larger problem. Physiotherapy before your surgery can allow those secondary injuries to heal so following surgery you, and your physiotherapist, can focus on the primary injury that you had surgically repaired.
Improve outcomes following surgery
Physiotherapy before joint surgery can help speed your recovery time by improving your range of motion and strength. We often tell people who are receiving physiotherapy prior to a surgery that “The better you go into surgery, the better you will do coming out.” If you go into surgery lacking 60 degrees of motion in your joint, then likely you will come out of surgery far less mobility. But if we can help you get your range of motion close to normal before surgery then you will likely have less difficulty attaining a range of motion following the joint surgery.
Improve joint strength and function
Think of the pro hockey player who has joint surgery and is back in the game that same season. An armchair athlete’s rehabilitation, however, could be approximately 6-8 months. Why is this? That pro athlete is in the prime of his life physically. His muscles are strong and joints are stable. His body is fine tuned to be able to perform at the highest level. So when the professional athlete gets injured he or she is already ahead of the game due to their physical condition. This doesn’t mean that if you are not a pro athlete you will have a long recovery, but physiotherapy prior to surgery will help to improve muscle strength which then will provide you with a more stable joint following surgery than someone who was out of shape or did not receive physiotherapy prior to surgery.
Educate and prepare you for joint surgery
By attending physiotherapy prior to a surgery you will also learn what to expect following surgery. We can help to educate you on the expected surgical procedure and prognosis following. It will help you mentally prepare for the surgery and achieve reasonable expectations of returning to activities. We will also educate you on what exercises or activities you can do immediately following joint surgery to provide the optimal outcomes. Some surgeons will want you to wait a week or even up to a month after surgery before you start physiotherapy. But that DOES NOT mean that you cannot do anything to help improve your recovery while you wait to begin physiotherapy.
Prior to a joint surgery there are many things you can do to achieve optimal outcomes. If you doctor has not recommended physiotherapy before your surgery I would ask him or her about it. Just like if you were going to participate in a sporting event, preparation is key. You need to get not only your body, but also your mind, prepared for a joint surgery. There can be a high variation of recovery times between two people who have had the same joint surgery. But, if we were to bet on it, we’d be putting our money on the person who had physiotherapy before their joint surgery! So call or stop by our clinics today to learn more about rehab before joint surgery and how we can help you.