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Recovering After Orthopedic Surgery

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Orthopedic surgery is a procedure that is performed on the musculoskeletal system, comprised of bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. These parts of the body play an important role in everyday movement. Orthopedics is a medical field devoted to treating these areas and orthopedic surgeons are qualified to diagnose, treat and perform surgery when necessary. There are a variety of orthopedic procedures including knee, hip, spine, hand, ankle and neck surgeries. Following these procedures, the physician will decide on a plan of care personalized to each individual patient and their needs.

Orthopedic Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation begins almost immediately following an orthopedic procedure. Recovering can take time, but there are ways to ensure that a patient’s recovery is successful to get patients back to living an independent lifestyle as quickly and safely as possible. Recovering from an orthopedic procedure typically involves physical therapy and occupational therapy. The exact type of services required depends on the procedure and individual’s needs. These will be set out by the physician.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a key component of rehabilitation from orthopedic surgery. Physical therapy helps to optimize the recovery process and restore a patient to full function and mobility. Therapy can begin as soon as the day of surgery, dependent on physician instructions. A physical therapist will first do an evaluation to assess range of motion, strength and mobility to create a plan of care based on the assessment and physician instructions. Physical therapy services following an orthopedic procedure typically include a home exercise program. The benefits of a physical therapy program following an orthopedic procedure include enhanced mobility, restored range of motion, reduced pain levels and a speedier recovery process. The therapy team will work closely with the physician to ensure the best possible recovery for each patient.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy helps to evaluate a patient’s level of functional independence and develop goals for therapy. It is a form of therapy that helps patients recover from an illness, injury or disability through the therapeutic performance of daily activities. Occupational therapy can assist with getting a patient back to living an independent lifestyle following an orthopedic procedure.


For some patients, recovering from an orthopedic procedure can take a few weeks. For others, it may take several months. Research has shown that the majority of patients are able to return home safely following an orthopedic procedure such as a knee or hip replacement. Home health care is a good option for many patients following a hip or knee replacement surgery because recovering in the home environment has led to faster recovery and a lower risk of adverse events such as infection.

A patient’s physician will decide whether home health is a good option. When it comes to choosing a home health agency, the patient always has the choice to choose their own agency. For more information on how to choose a home health agency that is right for a patient’s needs, read our blog post about how to choose a home health care agency.

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