Should I have surgery?
I always recommend friends, patients and family to get an physical therapy evaluation before they undergo an orthopedic surgery.
The reason is twofold.
- Evaluation ensures that loss of strength or range of motion is not the root cause of their problem. Various studies have shown that osteoarthritis may be present but symptomless. Further research and my experience, indicate that people with a diagnosis of moderate, not severe, arthritis can received significant relief from physical therapy alone.
- The second reason for pre-operative physical therapy is that it may lead to an enhanced surgical outcome. Studies indicate that a normal gait pattern, reduction of swelling, good strength, and range of motion before surgery can make for a smoother recovery. Another positive outcome may be the need for less medication with its accompanying side effects.
Of course, certain patients have great strength and range of motion and truly have structural changes that will only benefit from surgery. In such cases, a delay in surgery can result in long term health problems. That’s why an evaluation by a competent physical therapist, orthopedist, or an appropriate medical practitioner is always indicated.
Although I admit to a certain bias, I feel that this is a win/win situation for my patients.
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