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What is Pre-Op Physical Therapy and Does It Really Matter?


By Angie Austin, LPTA

What is pre-op physical therapy? Most people understand the necessity of undergoing comprehensive physical therapy after surgery. However, few understand the benefits of preoperative physical therapy or ‘pre-hab.’ This is a program designed for you by your physical therapist that can help you achieve greater outcomes after surgery.

Goals for PreOp include:

  • Mentally prepare for surgery
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Restore range of motion
  • Improve muscular control of the injured joint
  • Normalize movement patterns prior to your surgery
  • Improve overall well-being and fitness
  • Gain a good understanding of the exercises you’ll be performing immediately after surgery

No one wants to have surgery but living with pain or a loss of function drives so many to undergo surgery every year. As people are living longer, their joints continue to wear away making total hip and knee replacements some of the most common elective surgeries seen today. Some other common surgical interventions include: ACL reconstructions, surgical repairs of the hip and shoulder and rotator cuff repairs. Although all joints or injuries can benefit from preoperative therapy, at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, we most frequently see pre-op patients for lower extremity joints because these require weight bearing functions and it’s critical to get them back on their feet again so they can resume daily activities.

Pre-op therapy has proven to produce better outcomes following surgery. There will always be a loss of mobility following surgery. However, individuals who have had pre-op care generally have increased strength and stamina following surgery, as well as a greater understanding of how to manage all aspects of their rehabilitation. This in turn has shown to improve patient function more quickly following surgery which decreases the amount of time and money needed for them to ultimately achieve their goals whatever those may be.

Generally, it is recommended that you begin pre-op physical therapy about one month prior to surgery. At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, not only do we address strength, balance and range of motion, but most importantly, we educate you about the procedure, what to expect, how to prepare and also help get you mentally prepared for what is to come post-op. 

Every individual at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is evaluated and a plan of care will be developed and implemented specifically for them. So, if surgery is in your future, give us a call at 703-450-4300 and let our team of clinicians get you prepared for the big day so you have a head start for better days to come.