Rehabilitation After Orthopaedic Surgery
Rehabilitation after orthopaedic operations is necessary to ensure satisfactory range of motion and to begin the process of restoring the strength of the joint. In fact, the therapy after the surgery is equally important as the surgical procedure itself. I recommend formal physical therapy under the supervision of a trained professional for all of my patients having joint surgery.
Even before starting your therapy, you can begin doing the general exercises provided to you. Elevation of the leg and applying ice to the surgical site will help to reduce swelling and pain. Usually, icing 5 or more times per day for 20 minutes is effective. You should discontinue this routine when it no longer reduces your discomfort.
The specific physical therapy prescription and recommendation will be given to you either in the office before the surgery or in the hospital before you leave. Patients undergoing joint replacement will have home therapy arranged while in the hospital.
Arranging for Physical Therapy
Each individual patient has unique needs, schedules and varying insurance plans. It is your responsibility to set up out-patient therapy in advance, before the surgery. My office cannot do this for you. Check with your insurance plan for a list of participating therapists. All patients should begin PT within the first week after the surgery, either at home or as an out-patient. If delayed, the risk of stiffness, weakness and a prolonged and less than satisfactory recovery is increased. For knee replacement patients, if the knee does not bend 90° (to a "right angle") within the first week, you must contact us. This degree of movement is needed to prevent permanent stiffness and loss of motion. If you had a hip replacement, do not begin any active 'abduction' exercises until you see me about 6 weeks after your surgery. If you do, damage to the repair of your muscles may occur which could result in pain and limp. Remind your therapist to follow my exact prescription.