Joint replacement surgery is becoming more and more common. With an ageing population and 1.8 million Australians suffering from osteoarthritis in 2013, it’s fair to say that the number of people getting joint replacement surgery is likely continuing to rise.
Physiotherapy assists people suffering with osteoarthritis with prehabilitation. Prehabilitation is just rehabilitation, pre-surgery! Prehab is a general term that describes three months of moderately intense exercise immediately prior to joint-replacement surgery with the aim of improving outcomes after the surgery.
After surgery, there are a few options for rehabilitation. One is to stay in the hospital and do your rehabilitation in a specialised rehab wing. Alternatively, if you’re deemed safe enough (i.e. steady enough on your feet) to go home with family or friends, you can complete the rehabilitation as an out-patient with a physiotherapist in the community. Completing a course of prehabilitation has been shown to decrease the number of people needing in-patient rehabilitation post-operatively, and to decrease the amount of rehabilitation input needed.
The prehabilitation or rehabilitation comes in various forms. Common types of exercises used are strength training, aerobic/cardiovascular training and hydrotherapy (exercise in the pool). Recently, exercises with slow deliberate movements, like yoga and Tai Chi, have also been shown to be effective in treating osteoarthritis. Exercise has been shown to improve pain levels, improve muscular strength of the hips, knees and back, improve the efficiency of the walking pattern & other functional tasks and improve quality of life for people who suffer from osteoarthritis3.
For years, surgeons have had rules about who they are willing to operate on. Usually, you’ll hear terms thrown around like ‘medically stable’ and ‘low risk’ (hopefully this is you!). This means consistently taking medications effectively to control other conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Surgeons are increasingly incorporating weight limits on their patients prior to surgery as well, as increased body weight has been shown to be a causative factor in osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee3. To do this, surgeons are suggesting that their patients try a course of prehabilitation to decrease their weight, improve their pain and function before considering surgical treatment options.
The Movement Team now has knee-specific and shoulder-specific prehabilitation training groups operating in addition to our general training groups. Essentially, we see a lot of the same injuries and conditions so we have created some small groups of (4-6) people who need guidance on similar injuries or conditions.
You don’t need to have a surgery lined up to join in!
Prehabiliation is a classic example of asking the question “What can I do?” when injured. So ask yourself- despite any limitations- what can you do today?
Isabelle is currently the 1st Team Physio for Samford Rangers. Isabelle has worked in private practice around Brisbane before finding her way to Samford and The Movement Team. Isabelle is a qualified pilates instructor and also has a huge passion for dance and all things movement.