Setting Up for Surgical Success with Pre-hab

It’s no secret that physical therapy can help speed up recovery after an injury or surgery. But did you know it can also help reduce the risk of sustaining an injury and decrease recovery time long before a patient ever goes under the knife?

Preventive rehabilitation, or “pre-hab,” helps condition the body to prevent injuries and optimize healing — and it’s available at all our clinics. In fact, we have been offering pre-hab services since we opened our first clinic in 2003. Patients considering orthopedic surgery, including joint replacement and spine surgery, are among those who can benefit the most.

Recently, Jackie Gilmore sought pre-hab at our Joplin clinic before undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc that was pushing up against a lumbar nerve root, causing sciatica. Prior to going to ARC Physical Therapy+, she was also experiencing radiculopathy (a condition associated with pain, numbness and/or tingling) down her left leg and foot.

“I tried everything — anti-inflammatories, steroid shots, chiropractic care and even knee surgery — but nothing really helped,” she said. “I was constantly in pain sitting, standing and doing any type of activity. I only found relief when I’d lay down or recline all the way back, and even that didn’t last very long.”

Feeling concerned and discouraged, Jackie turned to the internet to find a physical therapist in her area. That’s when she found Jeremy Graddy, PT, DPT, Lead Therapist at the ARC Physical Therapy+ Joplin clinic.

“I’d never tried physical therapy before, but I wasn’t having surgery for a few more months, and I knew I needed to do something to get my sciatic nerve to settle down and relieve the numbness in my foot. If I didn’t, I worried I wouldn’t get my foot [function] back,” she said.

“We focused on maximizing her range of motion, strength and function so that after surgery, she’d have a leg up. We also discussed expectations for post-surgery so she would have a better idea of what to anticipate in terms of recovery,” Jeremy said.

After pre-hab, Jackie demonstrated improved range of motion, better posture and greater tolerance standing and walking. But the most noteworthy development was the fact that she no longer felt numbness in her foot.

“If I could say one word about my experience with Jeremy, it would be ‘wonderful,’” Jackie said. “He was like magic. Within six sessions or so, he had the numbness out of my foot, which was a major improvement because even my surgeon didn’t know if that would ever happen!”

Christy McClain, PT, MSPT, Partner and Regional Director, helped create ARC’s pre-hab protocols for total hip replacement.

“Pre-hab is structured individually depending on the patient’s need, and its success relies a lot on the patient’s commitment to performing his or her exercises,” she said. “It’s typically used in preparation for surgery, but there are cases where we have helped patients avoid surgery altogether because the program assisted them enough that they didn’t need it.”

Jeremy echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of a patient’s willingness and ability to commit to prevention.

“At ARC, we work to find the cause of pain and dysfunction, not just treat the signs and symptoms. While hands-on therapy is beneficial, the goal is for patients to learn self-care techniques, exercises and lifestyle changes to address their issues independently,” he said.

While Jackie ultimately underwent surgery for her condition following pre-hab, she attributes much of her success to her experience at ARC. During a routine post-op appointment, she told Jeremy she was no longer experiencing radiculopathy and has been able to maintain the strength and function she gained during pre-hab.

“Without a doubt, I’d say my success is because of my work with Jeremy,” she said.

Contact Us to Learn More

For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our clinics, contact info@arcpt.com or 844-755-4272.

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