Headed to Surgery?

Getting ready for surgery can be a very overwhelming undertaking. After planning for a procedure, you could be waiting for several weeks or months before you officially go into the operating room. Many people make the mistake of “taking it easy” before they go to surgery and don’t realize the adverse effects this can have on the surgical outcome. Not being active enough before surgery (e.g. decreasing social, recreational, and workout activities) can weaken the body and make it harder to recover compared to a body that’s active and healthy.

In anticipation for any type of surgery, rather than over-resting and being inactive, one should be conditioning their body to be in their best, most prepared shape. This is known as Prehabilitation, or pre-hab, a form of strength training which aims to prepare the body for surgical procedures; especially those of the lower extremity.

You want to go into surgery as fit, flexible, and functional as possible to guarantee that whatever clinical changes you’re making to your body are met with optimal bodily conditions. Strengthening all muscles associated with the surgery, and not just focusing on the “bad side” or the side that will be operated on can be one of the greatest assets that you provide yourself. This is particularly true in preparing the body for the traumatic nature of any type of surgery and in the healing and post-op, rehabilitation with your physical therapist in the weeks or months afterward.

Many people don’t realize that after treatment, your body may be bandaged or casted with skin and muscles that are swollen, inflamed, with stitches or stapled. Any of these medical modifications to the body while it’s healing can make regular activities very difficult. Pre-hab with a physical therapist can help ready you to engage parts of the body that might be restricted or limited to do seemingly normal activities that now prove to be difficult.

Prehab Before Surgery Includes

  • Increasing muscular and body strength
  • Improving balance and stability
  • Promoting better flexibility
  • Potentially aiming for some weight loss
  • Cutting back on smoking and drinking
  • Watching sugar and sodium intake
  • Instilling a sense of mental preparedness knowing you’re bringing your best body to the operating table.

So, What Should I Do?

At Healthmark your podiatrist will explain the steps that you should take prior to surgery, the day of, and the weeks after. A physical therapist should be seen before and after surgery and will remain in communication with your podiatrist. It is very important to use the same physical therapy group before and after surgery so that specific observations and practices can be implemented to suit your specific conditions and capabilities. Going to a physical therapy facility may not be necessary for prehab but is usually encouraged for post-op rehab.

If you’re concerned about insurance in relation to physical therapy and pre-hab, many people will get a low-cost gym membership for a month or two before surgery to do simple strengthening routines like elliptical and treadmill practices. Your doctor will work with you as best as possible to ensure that your insurance policy is used as cost-effectively as possible.

Pre-hab conditioning is for ALL people and can be particularly beneficial to older men and women. With Healthmark we try our hardest to have our patients pre-hab before surgery and have seen consistently exceptional results in doing so.