Should You Do Prehab before Orthopedic Surgery?
Consider these benefits of prehabilitation before scheduled surgery.
Want to make your recovery from orthopedic surgery go as quickly as possible? Investing time in prehabilitation – or prehab – may be the answer.
Prehab involves strengthening the body and enhancing functional capabilities, range of motion and stamina by doing cardio exercises and resistance training, as well as flexibility and functional training. Another important component includes educating you about what to do and not do before and after surgery. During prehab, you'll work with a physical therapist to create a personalized plan based on goals set by your orthopedic surgeon.
The Advantages of Prehab
The goal of prehab is to improve your chances for a fuller recovery without aggravating your current condition. In general, the fitter you are before surgery, the more likely you are to rehab more quickly and effectively after surgery. Studies have shown that people who do prehab get back to their daily activities faster and more easily than people who don't.
One study showed that doing prehab for 4-8 weeks before total knee replacement for severe osteoarthritis helped contribute to post-operative recovery by strengthening the leg and its ability to perform functional tasks like walking up a flight of stairs. Prehab may also help people having surgery for ligament tears, spine issues, hip replacement or shoulder injuries, among other orthopedic procedures.
In addition to reducing the amount of post-surgery rehabilitation needed, prehab may lessen post-operative pain, reduce complications and even shorten hospital stays. Having information about a patient's functional capabilities also allows surgeons and physical therapists to better understand physical abilities and limitations, which can guide post-surgery rehabilitation and the setting of more realistic post-operative goals.
Many people who are having scheduled orthopedic surgery can benefit from prehab. To maximize its benefits, prehab should be started at least 6 weeks before surgery. Although you may not want think about exercising due to pain or limited motion, investing the time and effort is often worth it. It may mean you'll need to spend less time doing rehabilitation. It may help you recover more fully. And it may help you get back to your everyday activities quicker.
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Date Last Reviewed: October 25, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Dietary Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS