Repairing people is not like repairing a machine. In a machine, you can fix or replace parts that aren’t functioning well, and they will start working immediately. People, however, need time and treatment to recover, especially after a major repair like a surgery. This is why post-operative rehabilitation is a necessity.
Why You’re Rebuilding after Repairing
Surgery is a big step, no matter where it is in your body and no matter how simple or complicated the procedure. Your body is being opened up to change something inside that is causing a problem. Once the initial repair is complete your tissues have to continue healing. Bones and soft tissues need to reconnect. Muscles and connective tissues have to get used to being in the proper place.
While all this is happening, the damaged limb or joint isn’t able to support the weight or movement it normally does until you are completely healed. Even once you are healed, though, you are not back to full strength. Strength and joint range-of-motion are things you gain with time and use. Muscles are only as strong as they need to be—so taking time off from your activities gives them plenty of opportunity to weaken. Post-operative rehabilitation, also called post-op rehab, is a process of building back up to your normal strength and flexibility through a variety of special exercises.
Types of Rehabilitation
Wherever you can have surgery to repair limb or joint damage, you need physical therapy to help you recover. This can include your shoulder, spine, elbow and hand, foot and ankle, knee, or your hip.
Shoulder – You use your shoulders for so much of your normal movement. Physical therapy works to restore your range of motion and lift objects again.
Elbow/Hand – It’s hard to complete daily tasks with an elbow or hand out of commission. Therapy works to restore strength, flexibility, and motor control.
Spine – Your spine supports your whole body. When your back hurts, all of you hurts. Post-surgery rehabilitation works to control your pain, rebuild strength, and help you function as normally as possible.
Hip – Your hip controls so much of your ability to walk. Physical therapy focuses on range of motion and strength, so you can regain your independence.
Knee – The right rehabilitation after knee surgery can get you back to your active lifestyle. Therapy will restore range of motion, minimize pain, and get you back to your activities, including sports.
Foot/Ankle – Your feet are your foundation. Your physical therapy will help you regain stability and strength in your walking, so you can get your independence back.
What to Expect in Rehab
Your exact exercises will entirely depend on where the problem is and how big the initial damage and surgery were. In some cases, the goal will be to return you to your sports, while other people simply want to be able to participate in normal, daily activities. How well this works will entirely depend on you and whether or not you do your exercises as prescribed.
You’ll most likely begin with range of motion and flexibility exercises. These will help your joint avoid getting too stiff while it heals. That way you’ll still be able to move your limbs as you recover. This will help you as you strengthen your muscles and connective tissues, too.
Then, when the doctor says it’s ok, you’ll begin strengthening your limbs and regaining your movement and independence. All post-op rehab will have specific goals for your motion, such as being able to get in and out of bed without problems, walking without crutches or other devices, sitting or standing without discomfort, lifting moderately heavy objects, and managing any pain.
Post-operative rehabilitation takes time and effort to complete, but the results are worth it when you’re able to go back to your favorite activities. Let Castle Pines Physical Therapy help you recover after surgery. Call (303) 805-5156 to reach our Castle Pines office today.
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