Orthopaedic surgery is any surgery performed primarily on the musculoskeletal system of the body. Common orthopaedic surgeries you may have heard of are joint replacements and reconstructions.
Physiotherapists have a large role to play in the recovery of these kinds of surgeries especially in the more extensive operations, such as a total hip or knee replacement.
It is not unusual to wake up in the hospital a few hours post-op knee replacement, hip replacement or shoulder reconstruction to your hospital-based physio asking you to get out of bed for the first time. This may seem daunting and entirely too early, however there is very well researched evidence for why getting out of bed early is so important: your speedy return to normal health and wellbeing!
Hospital-based physiotherapy typically includes re-learning how to walk and making initial improvements on your range of movement and function of the affected joint. The physio will also help you maintain healthy respiratory function by checking your lungs regularly. Drugs administered during surgery change your breathing pattern, which can lead to complications in the days after surgery.
Following your in-patient stay, it is highly likely your surgeon will request for you to continue with outpatient physiotherapy either in an outpatient hospital-based setting or in a private-practice setting.
With your outpatient physio, your recovery will be measured and monitored, goals will be discussed and set, and you will be given an exercise program created to achieve those goals.
Physiotherapists use a variety of treatment methods to assist a post-operative orthopaedic surgery patients achieve their goals. These include soft tissue work, stretching, hydrotherapy, manual therapy and gym-based exercise.
Recovery from orthopaedic surgery can take up to 12-to-18 months to occur. During this time, it is not unusual to experience bouts of pain and swelling; however these episodes should reduce the further into rehabilitation you progress.
Many post-operative orthopaedic surgery patients can expect to return to a normal life following a period of rehabilitation guided by a physiotherapist. This includes return to some sport and regular exercise!
Note: Please seek professional advice prior to beginning a post-operative exercise program.