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What We Treat

Post Surgical Care


Why is Physical Therapy Important After Surgery?

Every surgery, from arthroscopic knee surgery to joint replacement, requires physical therapy to regain your mobility and strength, maximize your outcomes, and achieve your personal goals. Fifty percent of your outcome is surgical technique; the other fifty percent is the rehabilitation process.

Even a “minimally invasive” surgical procedure causes trauma to your body and the underlying tissues. While your body is healing you’ll likely experience pain, inflammation, and swelling. You may find difficulty with daily tasks such as dressing, reaching, standing, and walking. Also, you may have specific directions from your surgeon for things you can or cannot do. This is to protect healing tissues and prevent possible complications.

For Example:

If you’ve had surgery to correct a broken bone in your foot, your doctor may tell you to be “non-weight bearing” or “partial weight bearing” for several weeks. You may need to use crutches, a walking boot, or a brace. Your physical therapist will guide you with these parameters and ensure that you are following your physicians’ orders to protect healing tissues.

If you’ve had a hip replacement, your doctor may require you to follow “hip replacement precautions.” This means you are to avoid certain positions with how your hip moves, which may damage healing tissue. Understanding and following these precautions are critical to your progress and overall healing.

If you’ve undergone surgical repair of a torn rotator cuff, your doctor may want you to restrict movement at your shoulder for a period of time.

What do these precautions and restrictions mean? How can you learn to function in your daily life while complying with such restrictions? How might these restrictions affect your body (weakness of muscles due to disuse)? How can you minimize or reverse these effects? These are important questions that your physical therapist can answer as they help you navigate the rehabilitation process.

Post-surgical physical therapy is a crucial part of your recovery. It will help you regain your strength, balance, flexibility, and function, following surgery. Research shows that physical therapy can reduce the amount of pain medication a person needs to use as well!

What to Expect From Post-Surgical Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are experts in body movement who diagnose and treat a wide number of post operative conditions.  Goals of post-surgical rehabilitation include helping you:

  • adapt to new changes in your body or use adaptive equipment such a walker, crutches, or brace.

  • move your body instead of lying in bed or sitting on the couch all day.  This lowers the incidence of complications after surgery, such as a blood clots or infection. Movement keeps your blood flowing and reduces lung or heart-related issues.

  • learn how to use certain tools for pain management or stretching.

  • reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.

  • accelerate wound healing and minimize scar tissue.

  • improve range of motion, joint mobility, and strength.

  • restore functional mobility (your ability to move around in your environment and participate in activities such as climbing stairs, walking, and getting in and out of a car).

  • return to work, leisure, and sports activities.

At your first post-surgical evaluation, your physical therapist will review your medical history and any relevant documentation from your surgeon.  He or she will examine your surgical site and other aspects of your health.  These may include strength, balance, pain levels and location, range of motion, and the ability to function in daily activities.  Finally, you and your physical therapist will discuss your goals and time frames needed to achieve them.

Based on all this information, your physical therapist will design and implement a customized plan of care, employing a variety of exercises and techniques to help you achieve your goals. This may include:

  • Manual Therapy, including massage, cupping, Myofascial Release, or Asytm

  • Therapeutic Exercises including mobility and strengthening exercises

  • Electrical Stimulation for pain control and swelling

  • Gait Training for walking activities

  • Neuromuscular Re-education for postural control, balance, and coordination

  • Functional Activities such as reaching, lifting, throwing, and kicking

  • Patient education on precautions, home exercises, and the rehab process

Your physical therapist will periodically make reports on your progress and adjust your plan of care (along with your surgical protocol) as necessary to ensure you’re progressing as expected. When your program is complete, your physical therapist will write a summary of your care and give you instructions and recommendations about things which will help you continue to progress at discharge.

We treat these Common Post Operative Conditions

Shoulder:  Rotator cuff repair, labrum repair/debridement, shoulder stabilization procedures

Elbow:  Tommy John Surgeries, tennis/golf debridement

Hip:  Total hip replacement, labral repair/debridement

Knee:  Meniscectomy, meniscal repair, acl reconstruction, total/partial knee replacement

Ankle/Foot:  Fracture care, achilles repair, lateral ankle reconstruction, bunionectomy

Low Back:  Discectomy, laminectomy, fusion


The amount of time you’ll spend in physical therapy rehabilitation depends on many complex factors; including age, overall health, type of surgery, any complications, protocol, and desired activity level at discharge.  An office worker who wants to return to kayaking after shoulder surgery will have a different treatment plan and time frames than a firefighter who regularly participates in a cross fit.

In many cases, patients go from the operating room to the physical therapy within a matter of 1-2 days.  Most patients are seen 3x/week initially, until decreasing to 2x/week or 1x/week.  Post operative care can vary from 2-3 months or 6-8 months in more complicated procedures (i.e. rotator cuff repair or ACL reconstruction).  No matter what your surgical protocol looks like, patience and consistency are the key while you allow your body to heal.  There will be up and downs during the rehab process.  Progress is not always linear.


Strong evidence shows that consulting with a physical therapist before surgery can reduce your risk of complications and drastically improve your overall outcome.  Even just a few pre-operative sessions can be effective for helping you prepare your body for the operation. The stronger you go into surgery, the stronger you come out of surgery.

Do you have a surgery ahead of you?  Athletic Edge and Wellness has you covered from pre-operative care, to early post operative care, and all the way to discharge.  Contact us to set up an appointment and learn more about how we can help you get the best outcome before AND after your surgery.  Any surgery is big deal!  Let us help you MOVE BETTER, PERFORM BETTER, and BE BETTER.  Contact us today at 224-505-3343 to get you moving.


Expert Post Operative Care Starts Here

Set up an Appointment Today!

224.505.EDGE (3343)
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