Post-operative physical therapy: making an informed choice for a safe and productive recovery journey

Published - Jul 13, 2021

Post-surgical physical therapy: making an informed choice for a safe and productive recovery journey

Content provided by IRG Community Liaison Darren Crout, PTA, TPI Cert.

It is common for patients to feel apprehensive when considering post-surgical physical therapy.

“I don’t think I need that” or “what’s the point?” are common responses that doctors continue to

hear from individuals that are considering their options for post-operative care. The reality is,

there is no time more important to see a physical therapist than the time immediately following a


In the context of more invasive surgeries, such as total joint replacements, physical therapists

will often see patients on the day of their operation, in their home following the procedure, and

then again within the clinic setting to initiate, guide and monitor the rehabilitative process. Early

intervention of physical therapy treatment is vital to achieving positive patient outcomes

following an orthopedic surgery.

In the short term, physical therapy sets appropriate parameters and expectations for healing and

provides a structured setting for patients to work safely toward their post-procedural goals.

Frequent physical therapy visits also enable a qualified provider to keep a close eye on any

recently acquired surgical incisions on a regular basis, allowing for prevention or early

identification of any potential problems related to wound-healing.

Looking past an individual’s immediate recovery, physical therapy is essential to setting patients

up for as much long-term success as possible. After a surgery, the body initiates its innate

healing process in an attempt to recover from the procedure that has just been undergone. As the

body moves forward in its recovery process, scar tissue begins to form in areas where physical

trauma has been sustained. If scar tissue forms in areas that cannot be supported by the body,

permanent impairments to function can occur. Physical therapy treatment that is focused on

strength, mobility and flexibility is key to the prevention of unwanted scar tissue formation.

Physical therapists also work to provide patients with a physical foundation that contributes to

the prevention of possible future injuries.

Many physical therapists see themselves as educators and partners that guide their patients

through the twists and turns of their post-operative journey. For lack of a better analogy, physical

therapists are like the bumpers on a bowling lane. They keep you moving forward and in the

right direction without letting your rehabilitation go “into the gutter.”

Long story short, physical therapy is the most beneficial choice that patients can make in terms

of their general health and long-term function. The path may not be easy, but it will be more than

well worth it - IRG’s care providers are here to support their patients every step of the way.

At IRG Physical & Hand Therapy, credentialed therapists specializing in post-operative care are

ready and equipped to join patients on their path to a successful recovery. Click here to request an

appointment with an IRG provider or call 425.316.8046 to learn more about starting the journey

back to your best self.