While most patients understand the importance of physiotherapy following their joint replacement, many people underestimate the benefits of seeing a physiotherapist prior to their joint replacement. Post surgery, physiotherapist play a large role in decreasing pain and swelling, restoring joint range of motion and strength, improving balance and cardiovascular endurance and restoring normal gait patterns. But what role does a physiotherapist have prior to a joint replacement? Prior to surgery, your physiotherapist will help you restore as much range of motion and strength as possible in the joint to be replaced and the surrounding muscles.
The stronger and more mobile you are going into surgery the easier your recovery will be. Not only do we want to strengthen your muscles surrounding the joint, but we also want to make sure the rest of your Healthy Body is as strong as possible to help with your recovery. Decreased physical activity is common when you are sore and this can affect your whole Healthy Body’s strength. It is important to ensure your shoulders, core and opposite leg are as strong as possible, giving you the strength to manage your walker/crutches and allow you to get in and out of bed, the car and on and off the toilet with as much ease as possible.
Your physiotherapist may also spend some time prior to surgery discussing the neuroscience behind the pain. Understanding how pain works can be a very effective weapon for decreasing post-surgery pain. Understanding how our nerves respond to surgery and how pain is normal before and after surgery and teaching you how to calm the nerves down is the essence of Adriaan Louw’s book ‘Your Nerves Are Having a Knee Replacement.’ This short book can be read in 15 minutes and has become a very effective tool as part of the preparation and recovery process.
Physiotherapists are starting to better understand the importance of teaching the science behind pain as a part of physiotherapy. Research supports the importance of understanding pain and shows that as little as 10-20min of pain neuroscience education can go a long way towards a faster more comfortable recovery. Understanding why the pain is there and how the pain works allow patients to manage their post-surgery pain much more effectively allowing physiotherapy sessions to be more successful.
Many people have limited coverage for physiotherapy and often mistakenly assume the money is best used following surgery. While post-surgery physiotherapy is definitely needed, one or two visits pre-surgery is often enough to teach you a basic home program and provide you with some pain neuroscience education. Many patients find that fewer visits are needed post surgery if they have put in the time and hard work before surgery.
For more information on physiotherapy pre or post knee replacement, or to purchase a copy of Adriaan Louw’s book please contact us at 705-788-1480 or check out on our website at www.proactiverehab.com.