Joint replacement surgery is a common and effective way to treat severe joint pain and disability caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and trauma. However, the recovery process can be challenging, and physiotherapy plays a critical role in helping patients regain strength, mobility, and function after the procedure.

In the immediate post-surgery period, physiotherapy is used to help control pain, swelling, and inflammation. The physiotherapist in the hospital will teach the patient breathing exercises to help prevent post-operative respiratory complications, and mobility exercises to do in bed, to slowly help regain movement. Patients are typically sent home the day after surgery, but the role of physiotherapy does not stop there!

Once the patient has left the hospital, it is important for them to seek out a physiotherapy clinic that they can attend regularly to continue their recovery journey. A clinic-based physiotherapist will work with them to begin range of motion exercises for the affected joint. This will involve moving the joint through its full range of motion, which helps to increase flexibility and reduce stiffness. As the patient’s strength and mobility improve, the physiotherapist will progress the exercises to include more challenging movements, such as squats, step-ups, and stair climbing.

As the patient continues to recover, the physiotherapist will also teach them exercises to improve their balance and coordination, as well as to strengthen the muscles around the joint. These exercises will help the patient to regain their normal daily activities and improve their overall quality of life. Most importantly, these exercises are always tailored to the specific needs and goals of the patient. Ultimately, our goal as physiotherapists is help you participate in activities that are meaningful and important to you, without experiencing pain.

At Cotton Mill Rehab, it is important to us that your rehabilitation following joint replacement surgery is primarily active and exercise-based. However, to help control pain and inflammation or to improve your mobility, your physiotherapist may, on occasion, also use manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, or dry needling. But keep in mind, these techniques are an adjunct to your exercised-based physiotherapy treatment plan, and you will also be provided with a comprehensive home exercise program to complete between your sessions. 

Overall, physiotherapy plays a vital role in helping patients recover after joint replacement surgery. By working closely with the patient, the physiotherapist can help them regain strength, mobility, and function and return to their normal daily activities. It is important for the patient to follow the physiotherapy program as directed, attend in-clinic sessions regularly, and to be consistent with the exercise regimen to achieve maximum benefits.

If you have had joint replacement surgery, or are planning on having joint replacement surgery, please call our clinic or book online with one of our physiotherapists! Hilary and Sarah are here to help you improve your strength and mobility both before and after surgery!

-Hilary Veenstra, PT