Rehabilitation after Joint Surgery
Physiotherapy offers rehabilitation for post-surgical patients from a variety of surgeries including:
• Shoulder Rotator cuff repair
• Total knee replacement
• Total hip replacement
• Ankle reconstruction
• Elbow reconstruction
• Shoulder replacement
• Sine surgery including discectomy and fusion
After any surgery, patients will have some side effects including symptoms such as:
• Muscle wasting
• Restricted range of motion
• Reduced joint stability etc.
how can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapists offer a supportive environment and are focused on helping patients regain their highest functional level through the following methods. Particular areas of treatment include the following:
1. pain management
Reduction in pain is achieved via education, gentle joint mobilisations, soft tissue techniques to relax the muscles and joints, hydrotherapy exercise programs and using therapy aids such as ice, heat packs or electrotherapy such as TENS units.
2. avoiding muscle wastage
Physiotherapists provide specific exercises aimed o ensure that muscle wastage is kept to a minimum. These exercises are started early and progressed regularly so that they keep pace with improvement in strength. Avoiding muscle wastage helps to reduce recovery times. Progressing these exercises at the right times is the key to making sure they do not aggravate the repaired tissues.
3. reducing scar tissue formation
Formation of scar tissue around the wound can reduce the range of movement and be a cause of pain. Manual Physiotherapy techniques can reduce the formation of scar tissue in and around the wound and assist the desensitisation of affected nerves.
4. improving functional ability
Through careful assessment and exercise selections a rehabilitation program will help to restore and improve a person’s functional ability. This can be achieved through hydrotherapy, resisted exercise in a Pilates studio or a home exercise program. Most often it is a combination of more than on modalities which helps to improve their function in a graduated way without re aggravation of their condition. The aim is always to return to the pre-operative function of the client.
5. increase joint stability
After surgery, patients may lose proprioception (the sense joint sensation of position). Physiotherapy can help in regaining proprioception through neuromuscular training and proproiceptive facilitation exercises with the help of wobble boards, bosu ball, foam mats or gym balls etc. Exercises aimed at improving balance are often incorporated in to a hydro and Pilates program which is undertaken under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
Physiotherapists can provide post surgery clients with information on how to manage their recovery. This may include education on the following:
• Surgery, normal healing process and recovery times
• Possible complications
• Effective management strategies
• Modifications to activities of daily living
• Using mobility aids such as crutches, walking sticks and frames
• How to avoid aggravation
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