Post-Operative Rehabilitation

Post-Operative Rehabilitation

By M.D. Surat Tanprawate

Many patients with a bone or spine problem end-up with a  surgical procedure. At certain points in the process of surgery is often the only way to fix the structural abnormality. In some cases non-surgical treatment for back pain from Spondylosis (degeneration of the vertebral column) is possible, please consult with a doctor or physical therapist as soon as possible. 

The most common orthopedic problems are spine deformity and degeneration, shoulder problems, osteoarthritis due to degenerative change, or bone or tendon abnormality from a sports injury. 

Some people believe that going through the operation at the end of the process means they can return to normal life with functions fully restored. However, this is unfortunately not the case, since a surgical procedure is only one part of the medical process, and patients need to start and complete the rehabilitation process to regain function. 


What is the right time for rehabilitation after surgery?

Immediately after surgery, because after the surgery the body is working on the healing process that includes the formation of fibrous tissue as the body heals the surgical site. Immobilization (resting, not doing much) is the worst way to regain function and make it more difficult to do rehabilitation after one to two weeks. 


What is the role of a Physical Therapist?

After your surgical process is finished, optimally, the physical therapist should get involved in the process of rehabilitation. The physical therapist can help to design a plan involving progressive exercises that will begin to strengthen the body, restoring the patient’s range of motion and overall stability. 

After some time, the physical therapist will know the patient better than the doctors do, an experienced physical therapist should be able to decide on the appropriate activities and exercise. In the case of an injury and operation that involves the spine, a neurologist and an occupational therapist should be involved to identify treatment to stimulate nerves.


How much time does it take patients to fully recover from the surgery?

The duration of therapy required to maximize function after surgery depends on several factors, including the particulars of the disease itself, rehabilitation plan and the stage of the individual’s healing. Generally speaking, recovery maitake four to six weeks to see the improvement which then is the result of surgery plus proper rehabilitation. 


Important issues to maximize recovery

There are factors that help to fully recover the functions of the muscle, bone or joint that was the site of surgery. The main issue is the adherence and completion of rehabilitation programs, working with a professional team of therapists. 

Rehabilitation needs an interdisciplinary team of medical experts and the patient should be part of the discussion and decisions. The process is more effective if the patient can be involved in establishing their recovery goals. 

The interdisciplinary team works together in an integrated, personalised and holistic way which keeps the patient motivated as well. This is why we also consider rehabilitation to be a bit of an art.