Post-Op Rehabilitation

post-operation rehab icon


Postoperative rehabilitation is the post-surgical program of re-establishing joint motion, muscle strength around the joint and finally joint function.

manual therapy of knee articulation with patient after knee surgery

What is Postoperative Rehabilitation?

For many illnesses and injuries, surgery is often a necessary solution and, depending on the severity of the illness or injury in question, is almost always nerve-wracking. This is where physiotherapy can actually help the recovery and healing process after a major surgery as a patient’s ability to regain motion and strength and ultimately return to their daily activities depends on physiotherapy. This is what’s known as postoperative, or post-surgery, recovery, or rehabilitation.

How Does Postoperative Rehabilitation Help?

The body after major surgery will not regain normal motion without specific retraining. Physiotherapists are specifically trained to restore range of motion and strength without compensation, to prevent re-injury during the recovery process, and to provide specific guidelines to allow optimal healing. The benefits of postoperative rehabilitation include:

  • Promotion of healing
  • Regain mobility / Faster recovery
  • Involvement in rehabilitation
  • Address postoperative pain
  • Reduce scar tissue formation
physiotherapist fitting a knee brace to patient leg
woman with weight training in rehab with a physiotherapist

The Process of Postoperative Rehabilitation

When the patient undergoes cartilage surgery of the knee, hip, ankle, or shoulder, for example, by whatever method, they should be aware that they need a long recovery period. It is therefore very important that the patient is committed to the whole process. However, it should also be borne in mind the timeframe of one year for recovery is an example of the amount of time required compared to the hours of the surgery. The actual timeframe required depends on a large number of factors. The second important point is that rehabilitation is a progressive activity. In this context, ‘progression’ means safely increasing workloads and stimuli on the repaired joint during the recovery process. The third point is that the tissues need to be stimulated, as they cannot recover by themselves.

The Importance of Postoperative Rehabilitation

It is important to properly stimulate the limb and joint after the surgery. This is, biologically, a very complex process, because we need to let the tissue mature. The process could be likened to baking bread. You have to wait for the dough to prove (rise) before you can put it in the oven. It is the same with the cartilage – you must wait for some time to help the biological process, and that process needs stimulation. The right stimulation is a protected range of motion and exercise. Consequently, the core of rehabilitation is doing the right exercises at the right time, with the right balance between not enough and too much exercise.

physiotherapist treating injured back of male patient

What To Expect From a Postoperative Rehabilitation Process

If there are no contraindications or complications, the patient may be fully functional once they have completed their postoperative rehabilitation. Unfortunately, with some large or extensive preoperative damage, the patient’s and surgeon’s goal is a pain-free normal life without sport. It is important to discuss this with your surgeon and physiotherapist before surgery and continue the conversation during the postoperative rehabilitation process.

If you need to seek advice or assessment post-discharge from an acute hospital facility or even months after post-surgery, you can make an appointment with our clinic. We can help you on your way to active and complete recovery. Here at Heartland Rehab, we have a structured and customised programme to allow you to progress your postoperative rehabilitation in the most time-efficient and safe manner.

We can treat your pain and help you
recover to your full potential.