Physiotherapy after Orthopaedic Surgery
Orthopaedic surgery involves an operation by a specialist doctor to repair bones, ligaments and/or muscles. These types of surgery can be elective (when you plan in advance to have the surgery done) or emergency, as a result of trauma or unexpected injuries. When any kind of orthopaedic surgery is done, there will be some loss of strength and joint movement in the area and a physiotherapist is expertly placed to assist with rehabilitation.
Examples of elective surgery include ACL reconstruction or other ligament reconstruction surgery, knee and hip replacements, shoulder stabilisation after shoulder dislocation, and rotator cuff repairs. In the case of elective surgery where you have a planned date for the operation, there is strong research to support “pre-habilitation”, which is pre-operative exercise to improve your post-operative outcome. This involves a program of exercises that are specific to the planned operation, such as joint range of motion exercises, strength and mobility training, balance exercises and general fitness. The pre-habilitation program prepares the affected joint and the rest of the body for surgery and makes the post-operative rehabilitation significantly quicker and easier.
Emergency trauma surgery is usually required when you have a particularly bad broken bone that is at risk of not healing properly. The surgeon may put in screws and plates to keep the broken bones together and then you’ll generally be in a cast, boot or brace for 6 weeks or more to help the bone set. When you come out of this immobilisation, the affected body part will have significant strength and range of motion deficits that affect its function. Physiotherapy rehabilitation involves graded programs of specific exercises that help to safely and effectively restore full movement, strength and function to the operated area.