Pre- and Post-Surgery

Preparing for surgery can sometimes feel like running a mental marathon. You have so many questions about what to expect, what your recovery will be like, etc. And of course, there is no guarantee with surgery. Everyone hopes that they have a good outcome, but there is no 100% guarantee that your spine surgery, knee surgery or ankle surgery will fix everything completely back to normal. 

Fortunately, there is something you can do to help improve your odds of finding lasting relief after surgery: pre- and post-surgical physical therapy. 

Most people think of physical therapy as an option after surgery to help rehabilitate the injured area of their body. However, pre-surgical physical therapy has been shown to help improve surgical results. A recent study published in the National Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine showed that patients who underwent pre-surgical physical therapy showed a marked improvement in key outcomes and recovery following a total knee arthroplasty surgery compared to patients who did not do physical therapy in preparation for surgery. 

What Is Pre-Surgical Physical Therapy?

Pre-surgical physical therapy is treatment specifically to help your body prepare for your upcoming surgery. Let’s use knee surgery as an example. 

There are several ways that a physical therapist can help you get ready for your upcoming surgery so you can experience the best results possible. Some of those ways include:

  • Strengthening the muscles around the damaged joint — Again, in the case of knee surgery, your physical therapist can help you build the muscles around your knee to relieve pressure on the damaged joint. This will help reduce your risk of future injury, as well as make your post-surgical rehabilitation just a little bit easier. The more your muscles can help support the joint, the better the outcome of surgery in the long haul.
  • Improve mechanics and posture — Physical therapy before surgery can help you understand more ergonomically appropriate ways to move your body, so you don’t undo the work done during surgery. Knee surgery isn’t going to help you in the long run if you don’t actually change any of your behaviors. Physical therapy can help you understand how to move your body properly and build the right muscles to support your joints, so you can reduce your risk of damaging your joints again post-surgery.
  • Mentally prepare for the upcoming surgery — Your physical therapist can help you mentally prepare for your upcoming surgery by answering questions that you have about your recovery time and helping you make a treatment game plan of how to get you back on your feet once your surgery is completed. 

Pre-surgical physical therapy is proven to improve the outcomes of orthopedic surgery compared to patients who do not seek PT treatment prior to their operation. The best outcomes, however, occur when pre-surgical physical therapy is coupled with post-surgical physical therapy.

What Is Post-Surgical Physical Therapy?

Post-surgical physical therapy is a much more familiar concept for people than pre-surgical. It’s expected that after an orthopedic surgery, you will be required to undergo some sort of rehabilitative treatment, typically in an outpatient setting, e.g., physical therapy. 

The purpose of post-surgical physical therapy is to help you recover from surgery, but also to help prevent the same damage from occurring to your body again. Unfortunately, many people don’t take post-surgical rehab seriously, and they end up still experiencing aches and pains long after their operation is complete. 

Think of it like this: If you have surgery to remove excess fat from your body, but you don’t actually change any lifestyle behaviors after your surgery, then chances are you’re going to gain all that weight back. And you’ll probably be even more frustrated the second time because you could have fixed the problem before if you chose to make some lifestyle changes. 

The same is true of post-surgical physical therapy. You can have surgery to fix your knee or back (or any other body part), but if you don’t make some lifestyle adjustments to strengthen and protect that area of the body, then you may end up back in the same situation you were in before surgery. 

Post-surgical physical therapy aims to accomplish the following goals for your recovery:

  • Increase range of motion and mobility in the surgical area
  • Reduce pain and swelling post-surgery
  • Strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint to help prevent future damage
  • Adjust body mechanics to help reduce the risk of future damage to the joint
  • Shorten your recovery time so you can get back to the activities you enjoy

Post-surgical rehab is a critical part of your recovery process. If you have an upcoming surgery, you should take advantage of the treatments available to you and do all that you can to ensure the best long-term outcome possible. Contact our team today to schedule an appointment or visit our locations page to find a clinic near you. 

Whether pre- or post-surgery, we are here to help you get back on your feet and back to the hobbies you love as quickly as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a health care profession that involves evaluating, diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The goal of physical therapy is to focus on movement in order to restore function, minimize pain and improve an individual’s quality of life. Physical therapists often utilize treatment modalities such as therapeutic exercise, soft tissue mobilization, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and other treatments to help achieve these goals.  

Do I Need a Referral?

The state of New York has “direct access” to physical therapy, which means that patients are not legally required to have a physician’s referral to see a physical therapist. However, some insurances may require patients to have a referral or authorization before they will approve payment. Be sure to contact your insurance company beforehand and determine the process that they require.

It’s important to know that if you are under the care of a physician and require physical therapy treatment, you have the freedom to choose your own physical therapy clinic.

Do You Accept My Insurance?

We accept most major insurance coverages. Some of those we accept include Tricare, Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and workers’ compensation. If you don’t see your insurance company listed above, reach out to us and we’ll let you know if we accept yours. At the time of scheduling your first appointment, we request that you provide us your insurance information so that we may verify your benefits and coverage.  

How Can I Pay for Treatment?

We accept payment via cash, check, flex spending card, and debit or credit card (Visa, Mastercard and Discover). Payment is expected at the time of treatment and typically required during check-in. If you have insurance coverage, there may be a deductible or copay required. 

Before your first visit, we will contact your insurance company to verify your benefits for physical therapy. Some insurance providers have restrictions on specific treatments. As a courtesy, Lattimore Physical Therapy files with your primary insurance as well as any secondary coverage. You will be billed for any cost share (if applicable) after your insurance has paid their portion. 

What Should I Expect During My First Visit?

During your initial visit, your physical therapist will provide you with a thorough 45-minute to one-hour evaluation in a private room. Please be prepared to discuss your needs, your pain, and any lack of mobility or function that you currently have. This evaluation will involve certain range-of-motion, postural and strength tests to help your physical therapist develop a plan unique to you and your condition.Treatment for your injury will begin on the day of your initial visit.  

How Should I Dress?

You should wear loose-fitting clothing during each session with us. Loose-fitting clothing helps us access and move the areas of the body that are being treated. If you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is a good choice. For low back problems, a loose-fitting shirt and pants are the best go-tos.

Do I Need to Bring Any MRIs or X-rays That I Have?

Please bring any relevant MRI or X-ray interpretation reports from your physician’s office. However, since X-rays and MRIs aren’t always the most telling, your physical therapist will want to also take into account your medical history and other physical tests and measures. Their goal is to perform an evaluation as best they can using a thorough series of processes.

How Many Visits Will I Need?

The number of visits necessary to complete treatment varies from patient to patient. Some patients only undergo a couple of sessions, while others need several months of care. It most often depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairment(s), your past medical history and other similar factors. You will also be reevaluated on a monthly basis. Each time you visit your doctor, we will provide you with a progress report with our professional recommendations.

Can I Bring My Child With Me to My Appointments?

Yes! Our policy allows for children to accompany their parents during appointments.