Physical therapy sessions prior to a musculoskeletal surgery (hip or knee replacement, ACL repair, etc.) and combined with a post-op therapy program, can help you heal faster than if physical therapy is used only after surgery.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that followed patients who participated in physical therapy both before and after surgery. Researchers monitored and recorded results from 84 patients between 2007 and 2011 who received both pre-op and post-op physical therapy and compared the results with nearly 2,700 patients who did not receive pre-surgery therapy, but who did receive a normal regimen of post-op physical therapy and care during 2006 and 2010.
The study found that patients who received pre-operative physical therapy had much better outcomes after surgery than patients who only received post-op therapy. Specifically, they found that patients who underwent a 5-week pre-operative rehabilitation program, followed by a year-long progressive rehabilitation program after surgery, scored significantly better at certain measurement points during physical therapy treatment.
What's even more exciting is that patients with both pre- and post-operative physical therapy programs had better long term outcomes as well. The authors of the study reported that “Compared to usual care, [the rehabilitation cohort] had superior pre-operative patient-reported knee function, and still exhibited superior… function 2 years after the surgery, with 86–94% of patients scoring within the normative range…”
If you or someone you love is facing a musculoskeletal injury or condition that requires surgery, ask your doctor about pre-operative physical therapy and how it could help you not only prepare and strengthen prior to surgery, but also heal faster following surgery.
Physical therapists can work with your doctor or surgeon and determine the best course of treatment before and after surgery so you can return to an active, independent lifestyle as quickly as possible with fewer repercussions down the road.