Joint replacement is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world, the most prevalent being knee, hip, and shoulder replacement. The majority of those who go through joint replacement surgery are suffering from arthritis, disease or years of overuse. But just because these procedures are common, it doesn’t mean that going through joint replacement can be taken lightly. Once you go through joint replacement surgery, you’ll realize that we use our joints constantly when going about our day, and you will miss the feeling of being able to use them freely. This is why physiotherapy is such an important aspect of recovery after joint surgery.
Joint surgery is a major operation and should be treated as such. This means you should do your best to follow your health practitioner’s instructions when you are recovering from your surgery. You will feel pain in the area surrounding your joint as your muscles and tissues recover. But even though you might be in pain, this doesn’t mean you can slack off on your recovery efforts. If you follow your doctor’s advice closely, there is no doubt you can make a full recovery.
Physiotherapy can begin mere hours after you complete your surgery. In fact, your doctor may come in to check up on you after you wake up from surgery. They might ask you to move your joint while in your hospital bed so the doctor can take note of your mobility and situation. Or the doctor may move it for you to assess your discomfort level and mobility. Your doctor may even ask you to stand on your joint or try to take a few steps. The area around your joint will be swollen and bruised, and you may need to use a compression pad or have the excess fluid drained after surgery.
The exact physiotherapy plan your doctor might prescribe to you varies from person to person, but if you think you will have a full recovery after a few days or even a few weeks after surgery, you’re going to be in for a surprise. The first few weeks of physiotherapy will help you build up your motion and strength. You would start by taking a few steps away from your bed, and other simple stretches and movements. Regardless of what joint you had replaced, your surrounding muscles will be weaker and may buckle under weight much more easily than what you are typically used to.
If your joint replacement was located in your upper extremities (ex. arm), you might focus on your grip strength and ability to lift heavy objects. What you might find surprising is that not all exercises revolve around the joint that was replaced. It will also involve other parts of your body that may have been negatively impacted as an after effect.
Before you are discharged, your doctor will work with you to develop an exercise plan. You might also be required to see a physiotherapist alongside that. Physiotherapy may not be easy, and most likely won’t be. But many patients say that it is worth it in the end.