Physical Therapy BEFORE surgery?

Although this has become a common treatment plan for surgical patients many patients consistently ask me.. why? If you’re about to let someone cut into your body to repair something wouldn’t you want your joint to be functioning at its maximum capacity before someone grabs a scalpel?

1-2 months of physical therapy before surgery can mean full range of motion and improved strength before going under the knife. The stronger your are before surgery and the better your joints are moving before surgery means for a happy and less pain-free recovery later.

Here is a brief list of common surgeries that can benefit greatly from pre-operative physical therapy

  • Torn rotator cuff/labral repair – improve shoulder motion and strength before surgery to return to daily activities with improved ease after surgery
  • Total Knee/Hip Replacement – a stronger knee is a happier knee/hip after surgery, especially in populations over 50 where for some there can be significant weakness
  • Lumbar Discectomy/Fusion – a strong core before surgery means more support for your back after surgery
  • Cervical Discectomy/Fusion – improvement in posture and flexibility in the neck can reduce stress to the cervical spine
  • Meniscus or ACL repair – depending on the severity of injury there can be a severe loss of motion/swelling before entering surgery. It pays to have good range of motion and to get swelling under control before surgery – both of which can be achieved with pre-operative physical therapy

So- before you let someone convince you to go under the knife immediately, think about the potential that pre-operative physical therapy can do for you in the long run.


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