As physiotherapists, we get asked about surgery recovery a lot. A big part of our job is to ensure that our patients who will undergo surgery feel prepared and have their questions answered. It is normal to feel apprehensive, uncertain or even scared. However, with the proper guidance and reassurance from your health care professionals, you should have a clear idea of what to expect when you wake up from your surgery so that you are not surprised by the outcome.
“I need surgery, but don’t know what to expect!”
You should prepare for surgery:
No matter what surgery you’re getting, you should consider preparing your body to help with optimal recovery.
“Prehab” is a form of therapy we offer that focuses on physically preparing the body for surgery. This can be done in the form of physiotherapy and home exercises. The goals for prehab may include increasing range of motion, improving flexibility of muscle, increasing strength and endurance of muscle. In addition to the above, prehab should consist of education regarding common adverse effects of surgery, as well as the rehabilitation process.
Expect muscle atrophy and swelling:
Muscle atrophy refers to the loss of muscle mass. This can happen as a result of inactivity and swelling. Swelling commonly happens around the area of surgery as it is the way our body responds to inflammation. The degree of muscle atrophy and swelling that will be experienced will likely depend on a few factors. It will depend on the type of surgery you are having, your pre-surgical level of fitness, any comorbidities or other health related issues you currently have and it will also depend on your body.
It is important to consult a therapist to determine what is within normal limits, and what is considered abnormal.
Have a pain management strategy:
Surgery comes with pain. There is almost always some level of discomfort after the surgery is complete.
Physiotherapy can use a variety of modalities to aid in pain relief and pain management. Similarly, your physician or surgeon should discuss the use of medications to help with the pain initially felt post-surgery. It is important to remember that the pain should be transient. As time passes, and the tissues heal, your level of pain should decrease. Similarly, the more activity and therapy done should help get you through this process as well.
Be patient, be motivated, set goals!
Recovery from surgery doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to be patient and keep a positive attitude during the recovery process. To help keep a positive and focused mindset, discuss setting realist goals with your physiotherapist. Set timelines and pick achievable and measurable goals. This will allow you to work on completing one task at a time. It will simplify the process. It also keeps the rehabilitation process on track. It gives you something to work towards. We appreciate that recovery takes time. The more you stay focused on your end goals, the quicker you will get back to your activities.
Doing your research and securing the help of a qualified physiotherapist is the first step in guaranteeing a smoother and speedier recovery. For those of you reading this blog who are having surgery, we wish you well. Knowing what to expect is one of the best forms of preparation!
Post-surgical interventions we treat:
1. Ankle fractures with pin/plate/screw fixations
2. ACL reconstruction surgey
3. Total Knee Replacements
4. Partial Knee Replacements (Oxford approach)
5. Hip replacements (Conventional and Anterior appoarch)
6. Arthroscopic surgeries, most commonly knee scopes
7. Shoulder repairs (rotator cuff repairs, SLAP & Bankart repairs)
8. Osteochondral allografts
9. And more!