Pre and Post-Surgical Rehabilitation
If you have an upcoming surgery, how you “prehab”, prepare and strengthen before surgery, and how you rehabilitate after surgery will have a tremendous effect on a successful outcome. Success can mean different things, to you it may mean getting back to high-level sport, or simply getting through surgery with the least amount of pain during recovery and everything in between. At Rebalance Sports Medicine we have experience treating an array of orthopedic surgeries like rotator cuff or labral repairs, post fractures with plates, pins and screws, and ACL reconstructions but also treating non-orthopedic surgeries such as C-Sections, or abdominal surgeries.
How can Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and/or Massage help with Before Surgery “Prehab”?
Before surgery, your clinician will perform a thorough assessment to determine your current state, looking at things such as strength, mobility, muscle tone, and pain levels. Taking into consideration your current abilities, an exercise program will be designed to prepare your body for what is to come. Usually, exercises would include some mobility and strengthening, along with an individualized home program. You may benefit from manual therapy to help with stiff joints at or around the area, tight muscles, or simply for pain management. Having pre-op treatment can also help with decreasing anxiety that often comes with surgery, your practitioner will be able to address all your questions and guide you in the process. The more knowledgeable you are going in the better you will feel on the other side.
How can Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and/or Massage help After Surgery “Rehab”?
After surgery, the early days of treatment are some of the toughest and treatment will focus on pain management, decreasing swelling and starting to get the body part moving with range of motion and gentle stretches. Muscle activation and soft tissue work will be important in these early days as well. The incision/scar is also something that practitioners will work on to help with healing and mobility. As pain, swelling, and mobility improves progressive strengthening often becomes the focus of rehab. The strengthening exercises you get in the early days are not the ones that will get you back into your sport or hobbies. Throughout treatment, your exercises will be designed based on your individual characteristics and what you want to get back to. Various manual therapy techniques can be performed along the way if any speed bumps arise throughout the rehab process.
What to Avoid Before and After Surgery?
Doing nothing! The worst thing you can do leading up to a surgery or after surgery is nothing at all. The weaker you are before surgery the harder it will be and the longer it will take to build up strength after surgery. The less mobility you have before surgery the longer it will take to get the mobility back after surgery. Simply resting after surgery is rarely the way to go. It could prolong pain and will not get that mobility and strength back and will not get you doing what matters to you!
When Should you Start Rehab Post Surgery?
If you know you have surgery in a couple months, it is a great time to check in with a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor or Massage therapist. Strength gains can take 6-8 weeks to start building so the earlier the better once you know you have a surgery date. Most of your prehab will be able to be done at home at this point with occasional check-in appointments to progress exercises and perform some manual therapy as needed. If you just found out you are having surgery and it is coming up in a couple of weeks it is not too late to start prehab. It can be very helpful to learn what to expect after surgery and get started on a few exercises that will start getting your muscles firing. If you are dealing with pain before surgery your therapist will also be able to provide treatment to help with pain.
The timeline to start rehab after surgery will depend on your surgery and the surgical protocol you may have been provided by the surgeon. Most orthopedic surgeries will have you start rehab within the first week of surgery.
How Long Do You Need Rehabilitation Treatment After Surgery?
How long rehab lasts will depend on your surgery but with some of the big surgeries like rotator cuff repairs and ACL reconstruction you will be working on rehab for a good 6-9 months. Treatments will be more frequent in the beginning and will slow down to roughly once a month toward the end of rehab. Usually getting the strength and agility to return to sport is what takes the longest.
If you have an upcoming surgery or have had surgery and are looking for expert post-operative care our Physiotherapist, Chiropractors and team at Rebalance Sports Medicine are here to help! Contact us today.
Bonnie Winship, Physiotherapist
Bonnie Winship is a registered physiotherapist practicing at Rebalance Sports Medicine in downtown Toronto.