In the weeks leading up to surgery, the most feared words after “anesthesia” and “hospital” are “physical therapy.” For many people, the anticipation of any pain that goes along with physical therapy is enough to keep them from stepping foot into a PT’s office after surgery. In reality, the only way back to full recovery after surgery is through a physical therapist.
Physical Therapy Aids Healing
Like it or not, physical therapy is vital to the healing process. Not only do stretches and strengthening exercises help a person regain balance, control and range of motion in the area where surgery was performed, it allows a trained medical professional to regularly view the area in question. Problems with an incision or wound can be spotted and addressed by a physical therapist long before they are severe enough to bother you. Physical therapy can also speed your recovery along as you strengthen surrounding muscles, learn compensatory strategies in the short term and begin reusing the limb or joint. Likewise, it can address pain without medication through the use of massage, electrical stimulation, ice, and heat.
Balance & Range of Motion Matter
Most people understand that physical therapy can strengthen the area of the body that has been surgically repaired. What many people don’t realize is that physical therapy can also help a person regain their balance or range of motion in a joint or limb. For instance, if you have a total knee replacement, physical therapy will not only help you relearn how to walk on a titanium joint, it will help you regain your balance and flexibility to help you maintain your ability to stand, walk, jog, jump, or bike for years to come. Remember, physical therapy is not only about recovery, it is about setting you up for physical activity long after you have been released from care.
Breaking Up Scar Tissue is Painful
Those who are just too stubborn to step foot in a physical therapist’s office immediately after surgery will find that over time they lose their flexibility, range of motion and strength in the surgically repaired part of their body. Should they mend the error of their ways, they will likely find scar tissue build-up is preventing them from fully recovering. In order to begin working on that part of the body, the physical therapist must first work on breaking up the scar tissue to allow the joint or limb to begin moving the way it should. This process is not only grueling, it is often as painful as having the surgery itself. Fortunately, those who seek physical therapy as soon as they are permitted by their surgeon tend to experience less scar tissue and minimal pain as a result.
Physical therapy is a vital part of recovery after surgery. Not only can it help you heal faster, improve your flexibility and range of motion and minimize scar tissue development, it can help you manage pain levels without excessive use of prescription narcotics. If you need help with your recovery, give us a call to find out how Elliott Physical Therapy can help you return to an active lifestyle.