The Role of Physiotherapy after Orthopaedic Surgery

Physiotherapists in Downtown Toronto | Dundas University Health Clinic

Physiotherapy – Overview

Physiotherapy is treatment that uses methods such as massage, heat treatment and exercise to restore, maintain, and make the most of a patient’s mobility, function, and well-being. It gets patients involved in their own recovery. It works to achieve physical rehabilitation, movement, injury prevention, health and fitness.

Physiotherapy plays a key role in the rehabilitation and recovery of patients who have undergone orthopaedic surgery. As the muscles would have begun to grow stiff and weak in the period before the procedure, post-surgery the patient needs to work on regaining and optimising function in the body. It’s also a fact that post-surgery, many people are worried and afraid of movement. Some even avoid physical activity completely. Such fears are normal; however, it is equally important to work on bringing back physical activity into one’s daily routine. Physiotherapy also plays a key role in helping strengthen the muscles before orthopaedic surgery.

There are three phases of post operative rehabilitation physiotherapy, beginning from the time of discharge from hospital and ending with the completion of recovery.

  • First stage – In the early recovery phase, the main focus is on reducing pain and swelling. Gentle manual therapy may be recommended by the physiotherapist to help you walk again and regain joint motion. The patient may also be advised to use canes or walkers, along with advice on how these mobility aids are to be used. Simple exercises would be introduced at this stage which do not hinder the healing process but yet help bring back muscle function.
  • Second stage – This phase aims at regularising the body’s strength and mechanisms. At this stage, the emphasis is on tasks that normalise balance and proprioception (the body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location). Additionally, manual therapy is used to boost the strength and range of movement in the joints. Soft tissue treatment may be used to regain mobility.
  • Third stage – This final stage of post-operative recovery starts after the patient has got back strength and independent movement in the second stage. The physiotherapist creates an exercise programme according to the patient’s physical abilities, goals and lifestyle. At this stage, physiotherapy could also help you achieve a complex functional goal by engaging you in more challenging, specially designed balance and proprioception exercises.

Benefits of physiotherapy

Surgery can treat health conditions that can’t be solved by non-invasive methods. However, surgery can also affect you physically and psychologically. Besides pain and inflammation, it can also result in frustration and anxiety. There are many benefits of physiotherapy which help in treating these issues. It also encourages early healing and helps improve your potential.

Here are some of the benefits of physiotherapy…

  • Muscular strength increase
    The musculoskeletal system that was operated upon is impacted by orthopaedic surgery. Physiotherapy helps to strengthen the muscles around the area that was operated upon. As a result, there is faster improvement in regaining the normal functions and motility of the operated part of the body. Physiotherapists may also prescribe exercises and stretching techniques to strengthen muscles.
  • Joint function improvement
    After joint replacement surgery, joints can sometimes experience below-normal functioning. By focusing on the operated joint through physiotherapy, the problem can be stopped from progressing further. Physiotherapy treatment helps to regain normal joint function faster.
  • Reduction in stiffness in joints and muscles
    After orthopaedic surgery, the operated joints and surrounding muscles often experience stiffness. In order to reduce the stiffness and preserve joint and muscle functions, it is recommended that patients undergo physiotherapy. Stiffness is also prevented from occurring at a later stage by regular sessions of physiotherapy.
  • Prevention of atrophy
    Atrophy is a dangerous condition in which muscles, which have not been used for a long time, shrink due to non-use. As a result, muscle function is hampered and unfavourable structural changes also take place. By ensuring regular movement of the operated joints and muscles, physiotherapy treatment prevents atrophy.

The benefits of physiotherapy, as we have seen, are many. Post operative rehabilitation helps you to:

  • Resume physical and recreational activities and sports
  • Increase confidence and independence
  • Decrease anxiety and stress
  • Get relief from pain and stiffness
  • Prevent boredom
  • Attain short and long-term health goals

Post-operative rehabilitation

Post-surgery rehabilitation exercises are highly recommended for those who have undergone surgery or are experiencing muscle weakness, reduced mobility, stiffness and pain. Post-surgery rehabilitation exercises will also help with low exercise tolerance and reduced independence. The registered physiotherapists at DUHC, Toronto, would perform a detailed assessment to determine the cause of your pain and dysfunction. This process will help to develop a personalised treatment and exercise plan that would help you recover and work towards achieving your individual goals. Request a consultation today.

Seek an appropriate physiotherapist

You are encouraged to visit certified physiotherapists in downtown Toronto if you are experiencing an orthopaedic issue or have just had orthopaedic surgery. This would help you become aware of your options for post operative rehabilitation. While dealing with orthopaedic issues can be a challenge for many, a physiotherapist would be able to help you recover more easily. Do contact us if you have any questions about orthopaedics or physiotherapy. Our registered physiotherapists in downtown Toronto are well-informed of the guidelines commonly prescribed by doctors. After assessing your needs and abilities, a post-surgery physiotherapy programme would be tailored to your specific needs. This treatment plan drawn by our physiotherapists in downtown Toronto will not only support your post-surgery recovery but enable faster healing by helping you regain strength and mobility.


With the availability of minimally invasive methods like arthroscopy, post-surgery recovery period has reduced considerably. Physiotherapy treatment further makes post-surgery recovery easier to achieve. Some of the methods used by physiotherapists to treat patients after an orthopaedic surgery include exercises, massage, wax bath, and TENS therapy. It is important to follow rehabilitation exercises as prescribed, avoiding any extra exercises. For optimal results, it is important to perform the exercises under the guidance of a trained physiotherapist.