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Pre- and Post-surgery Rehabilitation: Tips from a Musculoskeletal Physio

08 October 2021

With any type of surgery, whether a major operation or what might be termed a “routine procedure”, we want everything to run as smoothly and be over as quickly as possible. While the op itself is in the hands of the surgeon, the patient can also significantly contribute to the process by ensuring they undertake proper rehabilitation.

Engaging the services of a qualified musculoskeletal physiotherapist is a great first step. After performing a comprehensive assessment of your condition, they’ll use their expert knowledge and experience with helping others in similar situations to create an individually tailored pre- and post-surgery rehabilitation plan that takes into account any requirements/recommendations from your surgeon, plus your specific recovery goals.

This plan will include an exercise program covering the periods before and after the operation. The pre-surgery rehabilitation (sometimes called prehab) will be designed to strengthen your body prior to the op, help the procedure go smoothly and hopefully reduce the pain and any other negative effects that you experience as a result. The post-surgery rehabilitation will be designed to return you to a full range of movement as soon as possible, while continuing to minimise your discomfort during the healing period.

Both pre- and post-surgery rehabilitation also have a mental component as well as a physical one in that they help instil and rebuild confidence, respectively. Furthermore, the prehab exercises assigned by your musculoskeletal physio will prepare you for those you will need to do following your op. It’s easier to work towards what you know you were capable of in the past than something you’ve never done before.

Now that we’ve given you an overview of the importance of a professional treatment plan from a physiotherapist in pre- and post-surgery rehab, here are some tips to keep in mind throughout the two phases:

Pre-surgery Rehabilitation Tips

  • Stick to your exercise program – every session will pay off in the long run.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Unless your surgeon has specifically required that you lose weight, this is not the time to do so. Your body will need energy to undergo and recover from the operation.
  • Cut out alcohol and cigarettes.

Post-surgery Rehabilitation Tips

  • Get moving again as soon as your able, as blood flow is vital to the healing process.
  • Do your best to stick to your exercise program. (There may be times when pain or other complications make this unfeasible.)
  • Obviously, you will be in contact with your surgeon/specialist/GP. It’s also good to let your physio know how you are progressing with your post-surgery rehab and whether you are experiencing any difficulties. They can tweak the exercises to suit.
  • Continue to eat a healthy diet.
  • Abstain from alcohol and cigarettes for as long as you are able.
  • Don’t worry if things feel different. This is a common experience after surgery. By all means “listen” to your body, but remember that an unusual feeling doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong.

If you’re contemplating surgery in the future, feel free to contact Glenhaven Physio and speak to one of our staff about an individually tailored rehabilitation treatment plan. Don’t leave it too late as you want to make sure you give yourself time for the prehab exercise program to provide maximum benefit.

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