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For some patients, a major surgery means not only healing from the procedure itself, but also a long stay in the hospital. 

The stay itself can lead to complications since patients must generally stay in bed for a long period during recovery, and this immobility can lead to muscle deterioration and an overall decrease in function. 

There is a solution that can prevent these and other serious complications after surgery. 

Post-operative physical therapy has been shown to reduce the rate of morbidity as well as the length of stay after major surgery This therapy works by using strength training and balance exercises to build back up the muscle strength. 

The science backs this up. According to a 2017 study by Wainwright, McDonald, and Burgess, PT following a major surgery can “accelerate the achievement of discharge criteria, and has been evidenced to reduce the rate of postoperative pulmonary complications, venous thromboembolism, and infection.”

How Does Physical Therapy Help?

After your surgery, either in the hospital or in an outpatient rehab facility, you’ll likely see a physical therapist who can help you set some goals for your desired outcomes. 

People often cite key objectives like:

Improving Range of Motion

Your body’s response to the trauma of surgery is to go into a protective mode which means swelling, spasms, and limited range of motion. Physical therapists help patients with exercises specifically designed to increase range of motion and reduce swelling, spasms, and stiffness. 

Strengthening Muscles

Physical therapy regimens also help patients whose muscles have been weakened after a stay in the hospital regain strength. 

Your physical therapist can teach you exercises that focus on things like core strength and upper and lower body activities to help build strength and balance. 

Improving Mobility

Using an array of exercises and treatments, physical therapists help patients regain mobility and stamina gradually, using exercises and guiding them as they move from wheelchairs to walkers to canes, eventually getting them back on their feet. 

Pain Management

Post-op, inflammation and swelling can compress nerves, causing pain. Physical therapy promotes movement which aids in reducing swelling and reducing overall pain and protects against ongoing, long-term pain.  

Many times, an experienced physical therapy team can provide pain relief and prevention without the use of medication. 

Scar Tissue Reduction

The scar tissue that forms after surgery can cause pain and limit function and movement for months following a procedure. Physical therapists can help soften this scar tissue using tools like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and massage therapies to regain normal flexibility and range of motion.

Reducing Secondary Issues

After any surgery, there is always a risk of secondary infection and other complications like blood clots, which can be debilitating. Using targeted movements tailored to your particular condition, physical therapists can decrease the risk of these potentially devastating secondary complications. 

Physical therapists work in concert with other rehabilitation professionals like occupational and speech therapists as well as doctors and nurses to get you back on your feet and feeling strong. 

What to Expect at Your Physiotherapy Appointment

At your first appointment, your physical therapist will ask you many questions about your health, your pain, and why you are in need of help. They will perform a thorough assessment of your condition which may include things like digital x-rays and thermal scans. 

Before you leave, you should be given detailed, easy-to-understand instructions for at-home care to ease symptoms as you await your follow-up visit. 

If you are experiencing pain and mobility issues following a surgical procedure, the therapists at South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness can help with pain, movement, stamina, and mobility issues. 

We can help you to get you on your feet and back to normal. Why not contact us today for an appointment? We’d love to hear from you!