If joint pain has slowed you down and stopped you from doing things you love, it’s time to get back in motion. Surgery or medical treatment is only the first step in repairing joint damage.
Physical therapy is next to help you get the most benefit from your surgery and return to an active lifestyle. While managing pain and getting back on your feet (literally) can be incentive enough to consider physical therapy, it’s also important to know what to expect during your rehabilitation journey.
What Are the Goals of Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy lets you take the next step in getting back to feeling normal and mobile again. After treatment for a joint condition or injury, you will likely undergo outpatient physical therapy provided by specialists at a certified rehabilitation center.
Whether you’ve undergone knee, hip, or shoulder replacement surgery or are struggling with chronic joint pain, physical therapy is essential to your recovery.
Physical therapy helps you build:
- Range of motion
The primary goals of therapy are to regain function, lessen pain, and adapt to new limitations that come from joint replacement or major injury.
After knee replacement surgery, for example, you still won’t have full range of motion or be able to bend your knee 90 degrees without doing regular exercises. By strengthening the muscles around your new joint, you will:
- Regain function
- Reduce pain
- Prevent future injury
What Happens During Physical Therapy?
Progressive exercises are they key component of a physical therapy program after a total joint replacement. These exercises are tailored to your:
- Recovery goals.
You’ll start with simple stretches and advance to more challenging moves. Exercises focus on strength, balance, coordination, and stability.
To help decrease pain, reduce swelling, and restore motion, your program may include manual therapy. This includes:
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Joint mobilization
- Specific guided exercises
A physical therapist will likely send you home with exercises to do on your own as well. Although it may be painful at times, putting in the hard work is the best way for you to recover and begin some of your previous activities again.
Have you gone through physical therapy after a sports injury or accident? How long did it take you to bounce back? What tips and advice would you offer to anyone who plans to visit a physical therapist?