Post-Op Rehab – The Physical Therapist Gets You Back on Track!

After surgery all you may want to do is lie in the sun on a desert island, somewhere far away. And then along comes a physical therapist. She gets you off that post-op bed and gets you to move again. Hmm, sounds like a lot of effort, right? Right! In the world of post-op rehab, every effort counts.

Actually, the physical therapist is going to become one of your greatest fans and cheer you on as you progress!

Here’s to completing the journey back to mobility!


Post-Op Rehab for recovery after surgery


How Does Physical Therapy Help Post-Op?

Physical therapy speeds up the recovery process, reduces pain and swelling and helps you get your strength back.

Post surgical physical therapists aim to improve the patients recovery experience. The therapy focuses on helping patients resume activities of daily living at their normal level of function.

They aim to:

  • Help reduce post-op swelling through the exercises.
  • Regain range of motion , or improve the range of motion if that was the purpose of the surgery
  • Get back muscle strength and muscle tone
  • Increase level of endurance so that as the patient becomes fitter they will be able to do more of the daily activities of living, for longer periods of time.
  • Make clear goals of function that the patient wishes to achieve.
  • Establish ways to avoid future injury by moving correctly, efficiently and safely.

Post-Op Physical Therapy May be Required for:

  • hip operation – due to pain and reduced mobility, osteoarthritis
  • knee operation – dues to arthritis, meniscus tear, bursitis, trauma etc.
  • shoulder injuries– caused by repetitive overhead activities, straining to reach up, falling
  • wrist injuries – sprains, strains, fractures
  • hand issues – from overuse, trauma or arthritis
  • neck complications– from joint of muscle problems
  • ankle pain – common among athletes, could arise from normal daily activity
  • spine injury – avoid addictive medicine for back pain by doing physical therapy

When Does Physical Therapy Usually Begin?

  • following any immobilization period after surgery
  • a few days after the operation, before discharge from the hospital
  • as early as a few hours after surgery

In each case, it depends on both the type of operation and the patient’s readiness to begin therapy.

Making Progress

A patient may feel, quite accurately, that the physical therapy is getting harder and becoming more strenuous.

The reason that the exercises become progressively more challenging is a reason to cheer, not to tear.

It means that the patient is making progress and building up endurance. As the sessions in post-op rehab pass and the patient is further away from the operation, they will want to increase mobility and stamina until they are at least as mobile and agile as they were before the operation.

Planned Surgery

If the surgery is a planned event, the patient would be well prepared in advance of the surgery.


  • Check with your insurance provider regarding coverage, so that the paperwork will be as straightforward as possible.
  • Know before the surgery what the purpose of the surgery is.
  • Get ready, mentally, for the event.
  • Physically prepare the body, if possible for a successful surgery, by keeping fit and moving and by reducing swelling.
  • Prior to surgery, discuss what the post-operative rehab requires and plan for success by choosing a top post-operative rehab center for in-patient or out-patient care.


After surgery, the best option is to gently ease yourself back into regular life. The ‘slowest-quickest’ way is to take the time to heal, perhaps in a rehab center, where you can get the best service and best supportive options. That might seem to slow the healing process, but really you are helping yourself to heal faster than any other way and hopefully more permanently. For post-op rehab, there is real truth in the idiom – what you put in, is what you get out!


Original Photo by David Straight on Unsplash