Why Physical Therapy Is Important Before You Have Surgery

Therapists examines patients knee

Therapeutic Associates

When it comes to physical therapy, it is easy to see why it would be needed after a surgical procedure. But did you know that it can be very useful in preparing your body for what comes after your surgery

Pre-surgical rehabilitation, also known as “prehabilitation” or “prehab,” is becoming a standard for orthopedic surgeries. Prehab is a proactive approach to setting your body up for a successful recovery after your surgical procedure is completed. Your prehab program will focus on reducing symptoms such as swelling, pain and loss of motion and on enhancing muscle and neuromuscular activity. Throughout your program, you will work side-by-side with a physical therapist, who may incorporate manual techniques, exercises, and the use of modalities to reduce symptoms and restore function of your injured area.

Benefits of prehab

Prehab can help you manage pain and improve your range of motion, strength and mobility while you await your surgical procedure. At times, physical therapy can help extend the time before surgery, or reduce or possibly even eliminate the need for surgery if you have reached your personal goals.

When looking ahead to surgery, you may have questions and perhaps some apprehension about your procedure and recovery process. A physical therapist can offer a unique perspective to help prepare you for your surgery and assure your best possible recovery. During prehab, you can:

physical therapist and a patient
  • Learn safe exercises to do before and after surgery to enhance your recovery
  • Find out how to use any assistive devices (crutches, walker, wheelchair) you may need to help you carry out day-to-day activities
  • Review precautions, your plan of care, and expected outcomes from your surgery
  • Address specific questions you may have about your surgery and/or recovery

Prehabilitation is often as important as rehabilitation

The idea of exercising or stretching before surgery might be confusing and even a little scary if you’ve suffered an injury or are waiting for a joint replacement. But there are many reasons why you should consider working with a physical therapist prior to your surgery.

Minimizes pain while waiting for surgery
For some, there may be a waiting period prior to your surgery. Prehab is a safe and effective way to reduce symptoms contributing to your pain during that time.

Increases successful surgical outcomes and shortens hospital stays
Your body will be stronger going into surgery, which means it will also be stronger coming out of surgery and better equipped to handle your recovery.

Reduce muscle atrophy (loss of muscle mass)
Your body will retain muscle memory of your prehabilitation movements, making the rehab process a smoother transition.

Mentally prepares patients for surgery
Prehab is an opportunity for you to become acquainted with those who will be guiding you through the rehabilitation process after surgery. It also provides you time to ask questions about the recovery process, increasing your confidence in achieving a full recovery.

Get back to life faster by getting started before your surgery!

By working with a physical therapist prior to surgery and creating a pre-surgery rehabilitation plan, you will create a strong foundation for rapid recovery. Similar to the post-surgical collaboration, you can expect your physical therapist to work closely with your doctors to facilitate recovery even before you have surgery.

Are you preparing for surgery?

Participating in a preoperative program will allow you to maximize your outcomes, accelerate your recovery, and keep your surgery as cost-effective as possible.


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