Why post-surgery rehabilitation is crucial to making a full recovery.
Post-surgery rehabilitation after sustaining a sports injury can be of greater importance than the surgery itself.
Surgeries such as rotator cuff repairs, shoulder, knee or hip arthroscopies, spinal discectomies, ligamentous and meniscal knee reconstructions require intensive physiotherapy rehabilitation. Similarly, following joint replacement or fracture fixation, physiotherapy is required for optimal recovery and return to full function.
Failing to follow a proper restorative programme post-surgery presents a risk of oedema (fluid build-up), joint stiffness, muscle wasting and ongoing pain.
Undergoing a rehabilitation programme is also good from a psychological point of view, as it allows patients to regain their independence and manage anxieties that may have arisen following injury and surgery.
In his decade of physiotherapy experience, Ultra Sports Clinic Senior Physiotherapist Richard Terry has treated a range of patients, from weekend warriors to international athletes. As an ex-rugby player himself, he has seen his fair share of injuries requiring surgery and what it takes for players to get back to their best.
There are several factors integral in a successful recovery post-surgery. “From a clinic point of view, the most important is education in terms of timelines and expectations. There also needs to be a lot of focus on decreasing swelling and increasing pain-free range of motion,” Richard says.
“This can be done via soft tissue release, joint mobilisation, and specific exercises. Once the patient reaches a certain stage in their recovery, there is a shift in focus to a more exercise-specific regime to achieve optimum function.”
Richard advises that patients closely follow the clinician’s recommendations on education and exercise.
Given that people want to get back to training as soon as possible after an injury, one of the biggest questions he is asked is “How long does rehabilitation take?”
“The short answer is that it depends on the type of injury, the way this is surgically managed and the symptoms post-surgery.”
“The rehabilitation timeline also depends on the patient’s ability and activity level prior to surgery, among other factors. At Ultra Sports Clinic, we focus much more on the stages that need to be reached rather than the duration of the rehabilitation.”
Sleep and diet form a very big part of the healing process. When it comes to diet, whole foods as opposed to processed foods are encouraged. These include lean proteins like chicken or fish, combined with a healthy intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Protein, Vitamin D and calcium are also found in dairy products.