Surgery can be just what the doctor ordered to get you back to full health, but even the most minimally invasive operations involve some level of pain and discomfort. Anesthetic does a great job of eliminating pain during the operation and for a short period of time in the recovery room, but eventually, the numbness will wear off and pain will set in. Many people want to reach for the painkillers when this happens, but they may find more luck by pursuing physical therapy for their post-op pain.
PT For Post-Op Pain
Physical therapy offers numerous benefits over painkillers when it comes to helping managing pain in the wake of a surgical operation. Some of those benefits include:
- Pressure relief – Swelling is a natural response after physical trauma, and this swelling around the surgical site can compress structures and increase discomfort. Physical therapy can help decompress the area and remove pressure from nearby muscles and joints, decreasing pain levels.
- Range of motion – Movements can be painful after surgery because soft tissues are still recovering from being cut during the surgery, but movement can also be painful further down the road if pesky scar tissue develops in the area. Physical therapy helps to prevent the onset of scar tissue and increase your range of motion so that movements are soon pain-free.
- Muscle tension relief – It is common for muscles surrounding the surgical site to tense up after an operation. We can target these muscle groups through physical therapy to relieve this tension and in turn limit pain and discomfort.
- Strengthening – Joints and other areas of our bodies can also hurt because they are weaker than other areas. Physical therapy helps to strengthen joints and supportive ligaments while they are recovering after surgery to help provide stability and function in the area. This also helps prevent injuries to other structures that would need to handle more stress while compensating for a weaker joint.
- Active vs. Passive – Physical therapy is better than painkillers in the wake of many types of surgery because it is an active treatment that treats the underlying cause of pain instead of just masking the pain itself. Painkillers can certainly have a role in pain management after an operation, but they shouldn’t be your only means of managing post-op pain. Among other things, active treatments can increase blood flow, decrease swelling and release endorphins in the brain that naturally help to block out pain.
- Non-Addictive – We hope that you develop an affinity for strength training because of your physical therapy sessions, but we’ve never had anyone become “addicted” to PT. The same can’t be said for opioids, which are linked to thousands of cases of dependence and overdose each year. Physical therapy is a much safer way to manage pain following a surgical operation.
For more information about how physical therapy can help you manage pain after a surgical operation, reach out to the experienced team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.
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