Surgery, whether through choice, or after a trauma is often just the start of a long journey to recovery. It is a misconception that surgery will sort everything without any further work- yes, surgery is often vital to sort out the underlying issues, but it is so important to have a recovery and rehabilitation plan that is tailored for you. It is also important that there is enough hands on work within that. Most surgeries will need a period of immobilization, whether that is in a cast, brace or a walking boot, and for most of the abdominal surgeries, simple rest is needed.
The reason that physiotherapy is vital after surgery is that scars can become very thickened, adhesed and stuck to the underlying tissues, causing problems of their own; joints can become very stiff and result in altered movement patterns, which can have an effect elsewhere in the body, and muscles can become short, weak and dysfunctional very quickly. Often with chronic problems that result in surgery, the person has already developed other compensatory issues pre-operatively, which if left untreated can result in incomplete recovery and a lasting effect on the body and our activity levels. We often see patients who have been given very appropriate exercises after surgery, but are unable to do them well, because the joints have become too stiff and therefore they are unable to stretch the surrounding muscles, nor are they then able to strengthen those muscles through range. It is natural for the tissues in the body to tighten as a protective mechanism post trauma, surgery, or immobilisation but it can take a specialist, very hands on approach to enable this to start to move again, so that normal activities can be resumed.
The physiotherapists at CSPC have experience gained from working in elite sport, where athletes need to be able to get back to training and their sport as quickly as possible, and if a holistic approach is not taken, other injuries may occur further down the line, as they get back into training. We apply this approach to all of our clients, optimizing recovery to ensure that they also get back to normal levels of activity as soon as possible.
In addition to assessing the original injury or area, our physiotherapists will carry out a full musculoskeletal assessment, taking into account your eventual aims. From this your physiotherapist will design a comprehensive, personalised rehabilitation plan, which will not just include specific exercises but also include hands on manual physiotherapy treatments and advice regarding the management of your condition. Your plan will be designed to complement your post operative guidelines or specific protocols set by your own consultant.
Your recovery will depend on the exact nature of the surgery you have had, the length of time you have had your symptoms, your personal fitness and your own health. Your own rehabilitation plan will reflect these and be tailored to you and be modified accordingly as your condition improves.
Surgeries have a standard rehabilitation protocol based on the current medical evidence. These provide a framework of what type of exercises and activity is advised based on the time after surgery. However, not everyone recovers at the same rate so these often have to be modified to match your own individual progress. We find that our clients benefit greatly from the additional hands on treatment that we provide.
We can also provide you with a pre-operative strengthening plan so that you go into surgery as healthy and as strong as possible.
General Surgery, Abdominal and Gynaecological surgeries
We recognise that restrictions in the mobility of the body’s fascia and viscera (internal organs) can affect how we move and function and can add to or be the source of pain or poor movement patterns. CSPC physiotherapists have been trained in how to treat these restrictions effectively. Management of the scars which are a result of surgery is particularly important for these clients.
A cancer diagnosis is devastating, and many of the surgeries and treatments can be equally traumatic. For many people, being active is an important part of their life, and is part of staying emotionally well. Many people will aim to return to a reasonable level of activity after they are given the go ahead from their consultant. At CSPC, our physiotherapists will support your recovery, using the appropriate skills, from our training. This may include musculoskeletal work, cranio-sacral and neural work, scar management and visceral work where appropriate.
It is normal for your breathing pattern to be affected after surgery due to postures we often adopt following surgery, especially if we have had to rest, or it is painful to breathe fully. This can be improved with manual treatment and breathing retraining exercises aimed at restoring your normal breathing patterns and improving your confidence and ability to return to activity.