The Ultimate Guide to Post-Surgery Physiotherapy Treatments

Written by Chris Bradley

Home/Ankle & Foot, Elbow, Hip, Knee, Low Back, Middle back, Neck, Others, Shoulder/The Ultimate Guide to Post-Surgery Physiotherapy Treatments

When going through post-surgery recovery, understanding the role of physiotherapy as part of the process is crucial. This treatment helps to accelerate healing and restore vitality, supporting patients as they return to their usual activities.

So, how can physiotherapy treatments help after an operation? 

This guide explores how post-surgery physiotherapy can help with various procedures and the rehabilitative techniques that form treatments. If you want to know more about managing pain, the importance of physiotherapists and how to return to your normal routine, continue reading.

How to Prepare for Your Post-Surgery Physiotherapy

woman having physiotherapy

This regimen helps you progress through recovery and supports swift healing. The timing depends on the nature of your surgical procedure, but it often commences as early as the day after your operation. 

Not all surgeries can be anticipated; however, you must recognise the value of pre-surgery physiotherapy and its effects. This preparatory phase optimises recovery and fortifies your body, reducing the impact of surgery and promoting muscle strength. 

By embracing these sessions, patients can substantially diminish hospitalisation periods, accelerating the return to regular life.

What Is The Role of a Physiotherapist?

role of a physiotherapist

If you need post-surgery physiotherapy in London, bodytonic can support you as you recover from your procedure. We specialise in a range of physiotherapy techniques tailored to your unique needs. Our expert therapists are dedicated to guiding you through a personalised recovery plan, helping you regain your strength, mobility, and vitality with our specialised services. 

If you have any questions or require personalised guidance on the best treatment for you, don’t hesitate to explore our site or contact us directly at bodytonic to see how we can support your physiotherapy needs today.

Physiotherapists use a science-based, holistic approach to support their clients during post-surgery recovery. Dedicated to aiding individuals affected by injury, illness, or disability, these professionals use a comprehensive collection of techniques.

Through targeted movements, tailored exercises, and manual therapy, physiotherapists alleviate pain and stiffness, fostering independence in movement. Their role does not stop after the pain relief; they also help patients regarding future risks of injury and illness via education and advice.

Regardless of age or condition, physiotherapy supports patients as they regain mobility and improve their well-being.

The Benefits of Rehabilitative Physiotherapy

rehabilitative physiotherapy

1. Improve Outcomes

By targeting specific areas, this specialised form of treatment significantly improves patients’ mobility, helping them regain their independence. Through pre- and post-surgery rehabilitation, patients will begin to find tasks that are more manageable as they progress through their recovery.

2. Streamline Recovery Process

Physiotherapy is vital after surgery. By restoring optimal strength, physiotherapists enable patients to regain control over their bodies, building the resilience necessary for daily activities. Flexibility and range of movement are addressed, ensuring a comprehensive restoration of physical capabilities.

Moreover, these sessions improve stamina, empowering individuals to tackle challenges. Pain is significantly alleviated, granting patients the peace of mind necessary for a holistic recovery. 

Beyond a patient’s physical needs, physiotherapists serve as educators, providing invaluable knowledge on managing long-term recovery. This information helps patients build confidence and assurance in their recovery process.

3. Tailored Programme

An essential part of rehabilitative physiotherapy is its personalised approach. 

Physiotherapists form their sessions to include tailored exercises and manual techniques to suit the individual’s needs. This bespoke regimen ensures that every movement and session is purposeful, maximising its impact on recovery. 

By addressing each patient’s specific challenges, physiotherapists help patients achieve their goals and return to their usual activities after surgery.

Physiotherapists also make sure to build progression during each session so patients keep improving week after week and avoid the plateau effect.

Procedures That Would Benefit From Post-Surgery Physiotherapy

Surgery, by nature, involves structural alterations to the body, such as the following:

  • Opening and closing the tissues
  • Removing tissue
  • Repairing and repositioning tissues or organs
  • Transplants

Each medical procedure demands a tailored approach to recovery. Physiotherapy, personalised to the specifics of each procedure, is vital in this restoration.

Understanding each surgery and the corresponding physiotherapy protocols is imperative, ensuring you can receive the treatments required after the procedure to return to your usual routine.

Some of the procedures that benefit from post-surgery physiotherapy include the following:

1. Knee/hip replacement

knee replacement physiotherapy

A joint replacement occurs when your original joint can no longer operate correctly and has become a source of pain and tightness. The purpose of hip and knee replacements is to reduce pain and stiffness and enhance mobility.

Physiotherapy post-knee replacement surgery uses exercises to bolster the joint, restoring flexibility and strength. Hip replacement patients benefit from exercises that enhance hip stability and mobility.

Under the guidance of physiotherapists, tailored regimens aid in regaining joint function, alleviating pain in the knee or hip, and preventing complications. Education of the patient is a critical point in the rehabilitation as some specific movements could remain forbidden to protect the new joint. 

2. Knee/hip arthroscopy

A knee or hip arthroscopy procedure enables medical professionals to check and sometimes repair joint issues. 

The treatments for knee arthroscopy involve physiotherapy exercises to enhance joint mobility, strengthen surrounding muscles, and reduce swelling. These factors help the knee to return to normal function. Equally, hip arthroscopy patients benefit from movements that promote hip stability and flexibility, which are crucial for a swift recovery and help with pain in the hip.

Through physiotherapy, patients can regain strength, alleviate discomfort, and regain mobility through targeted exercises. Understanding knee and hip arthroscopy and following personalised physiotherapy plans enables individuals to overcome surgical challenges and improve movement with the affected joint.

3. Discectomy

discs in spine

A discectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a damaged disc in the spine. Post-discectomy, physiotherapists design tailored exercises focusing on core strength, flexibility, posture correction, and spine bolstering. Manual therapies can aid with pain and stiffness, promoting optimal spinal mobility. Patient education is crucial after that type of surgery, especially to learn how to change positions, for example, getting up from the bed.

4. Back and spine surgery

Addressing spinal conditions such as lumbar disc herniation requires back and spine surgeries. Post-back or spinal surgery physiotherapy focuses on strengthening core muscles and enhancing flexibility. It also involves manual therapies to help with post-surgical discomfort and foster mobility.

The physiotherapist’s role is to advise on managing daily life activities and long-term recovery.

5. ACL reconstruction

after knee operation

ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstruction is a surgical procedure for knee stability, and the physiotherapy that follows focuses on restoring knee strength, flexibility, and balance. Specialised exercises target the knee’s stability, ensuring a safe return to activities.

Physiotherapists guide patients through gradual, progressive exercises, preventing complications and re-injuries. 

By addressing muscle imbalances and enhancing proprioception, post-ACL surgery physiotherapy not only aids physical recovery but also instils confidence in movement. 

6. Meniscal repair

Knee cartilage tears require a meniscal repair surgery, followed by physiotherapy to help heal the meniscal injury. After a meniscal repair, specialised physio sessions focus on restoring knee mobility, strength, and stability. Physiotherapists design tailored exercises to enhance joint flexibility, gradually reintroducing weight-bearing activities. They can also include manual therapies to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort, facilitating the body’s natural healing processes. 

7. Cardiac surgery

surgeon holding a heart

This complex procedure involves the heart or blood vessels and requires meticulous post-operative care. Following cardiac surgery, physiotherapy sessions focus on enhancing cardiovascular endurance, promoting lung function, and rebuilding overall strength. Patients gradually regain their stamina through carefully designed exercises and learn to manage their energy levels effectively.

Physiotherapists monitor vital signs, ensuring safe and progressive exercise routines — education on proper breathing techniques and posture further aids healing. Physiotherapy accelerates physical recovery and instils patient confidence. 

8. Rotator cuff repair

Individuals with torn shoulder tendons may need a rotator cuff repair. Post-surgery, specialised physiotherapy sessions focus on gradually restoring shoulder mobility and strength. Physiotherapists design personalised exercises that target specific muscle groups, promoting flexibility and preventing stiffness. 

Professionals may use manual therapies to ease pain and promote optimal healing. Through targeted physiotherapy, patients regain functional shoulder use, facilitating a smooth return to everyday tasks and activities.

9. Tennis elbow release

tennis elbow physio

The surgery to address lateral epicondylitis is a tennis elbow release, and a physiotherapist can help patients recover from this operation. Following the procedure, specialised physiotherapy sessions focus on reducing pain, enhancing arm mobility, and rebuilding strength. Physiotherapists craft tailored exercises promoting flexibility and preventing stiffness. 

One of the key points of this rehabilitation is education and advice to prevent further inflammation of the elbow tendons and, therefore, to ensure a safe return to fitness and daily life practice. 

10. Wrist surgery

Wrist surgery can address various conditions, from fractures to ligament repairs. In these circumstances, physiotherapy helps a patient regain optimal hand function.

Following wrist surgery, specialised physiotherapy sessions focus on restoring wrist flexibility and strengthening grip. Physiotherapists employ tailored exercises that target specific wrist movements, facilitating mobility and preventing stiffness. Manual therapies also enhance joint mobility.

11. Hernia operation

hernia operation

A hernia is when a spinal disc protrudes between two vertebrae, usually pressing on a nerve root and causing pain. After an MRI and a consultation, a doctor will determine whether it requires an operation. Physiotherapy post-surgery helps to strengthen core muscles, bring back the global mobility of the spine and reduce the pain. Physiotherapists can also incorporate manual techniques to alleviate post-surgical discomfort and facilitate optimal healing. 

Patients regain core strength and minimise potential complications through these focused post-surgery physiotherapy sessions. Understanding the intricacies of hernia surgery and adhering to physiotherapy protocols helps you regain this strength and build confidence after the operation.

How long does it take to recover from hernia surgery?

After hernia surgery, you should feel more comfortable with light activities and short distances after a week. Do not lift anything heavy or complete strenuous exercise for at least six weeks. Do not lift anything heavy if it causes pain, even after six weeks.

12. Shoulder surgery

Operations to support the shoulder can amend a spectrum of conditions, including rotator cuff repairs or shoulder replacement. Post-shoulder surgery physiotherapy, such as physiotherapy after frozen shoulder surgery, focuses on regaining shoulder mobility and strength, targeting specific muscles, promoting flexibility and preventing stiffness. 

Moreover, manual therapies alleviate post-surgical discomfort and enhance joint mobility. Overall, physiotherapy helps patients regain functional shoulder use after this operation.

13. Achilles tendon repairs

achilles tendon injury

Physiotherapy is essential for Achilles tendon injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis, and after surgeries like Achilles tendon repairs. This procedure is for tendon ruptures or chronic injuries, and following the surgery, specialised physiotherapy sessions promote tendon flexibility, strengthen calf muscles, and restore overall leg functionality. Physiotherapists also use manual techniques to release muscle tension and improve tissue mobility.  

Physiotherapists design tailored exercises targeting the affected tendon, gradually increasing load-bearing capacity and preventing re-injury. Through focused physiotherapy, patients regain functional use of their legs, enabling them to resume daily activities and sports confidently.

14. Intervertebral lumbar fusion

The surgical procedure for spinal instability or degeneration is an intervertebral lumbar fusion, and the physiotherapy that follows promotes spinal alignment, enhances core strength, and facilitates post-operative healing. Physiotherapists also promote flexibility while reducing the risk of complications. The main objective of rehabilitation post-surgery is to get you back to your daily activities confidently and without pain.  

15. Ankle lateral ligament reconstruction

ankle ligament surgery

A lateral ligament reconstruction is a surgical procedure addressing ankle instability due to ligament damage. Following lateral ligament reconstruction, specialised physiotherapy sessions focus on regaining ankle stability, promoting flexibility, and strengthening the surrounding muscles. Physiotherapists employ tailored exercises to enhance joint mobility and proprioception while preventing stiffness. 

Through targeted physiotherapy, patients regain functional use of their ankles, enabling them to walk confidently and engage in physical activities.

Physiotherapy after surgery is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it’s a meticulous and personalised process. Skilled physiotherapists conduct thorough assessments to form the foundation of a tailored physiotherapy plan, including evaluating movements, addressing pain, reducing swelling, and restoring balance.

Establishing a physiotherapy plan means the physiotherapist must consider the patient’s unique needs, ensuring a comprehensive and effective rehabilitation. Professionals carefully calibrate the duration of rehabilitation, depending on the patient’s specific surgery and individual progress.

Post-Surgery Physiotherapy Techniques

physio exercises

In post-surgery rehabilitation, physiotherapists use diverse techniques tailored to their patients’ needs. From targeted exercises enhancing strength and flexibility to manual therapies addressing pain and swelling, physiotherapists adeptly guide patients.

Moreover, patient education is fundamental, empowering individuals to participate actively in their recovery. By adjusting these techniques to suit the patient’s needs, physiotherapists can structure a personalised plan to optimise healing.

Some of the physiotherapy techniques can include the following:

Be aware some of the following exercises are not suitable for everybody. Always speak to your physiotherapist and ask if you can practise them during your recovery stage.

Gluteal Sets

This exercise targets the gluteal muscles crucial for stability and mobility. To perform a gluteal set, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your buttocks together, holding the contraction for a few seconds, then release. 

Straight Leg Raises

After lower limb surgeries, straight leg raises are vital. For this movement, lie on your back with one leg straight and the other bent at the knee. Slowly lift the straightened leg six inches, then hold. Continue lifting the leg towards the ceiling in six-inch segments and holding, and then lower it back down. 

Supported Squats

To focus on rebuilding lower body strength and balance, a physiotherapist may encourage you to do supported squats. For this action, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding onto a stable surface like a chair or countertop for support. Slowly lower your body as if sitting back into a chair, keeping your weight on your heels and chest lifted. 

Knee Extension

Knee-related surgeries can require knee extension exercises to help post-operation. Sit on a chair or lie on your back and straighten your knee by lifting your leg. During this process, keep your thigh muscles engaged. Hold the extended position briefly before lowering your leg back down.

Hip Abduction

The hip abduction exercises are integral to post-surgery physiotherapy, particularly for hip and lower limb surgeries. During hip abduction, lie on your side with your legs straight. Lift your top leg upward while keeping it straight, then lower it back down slowly.

Heel Raises

Various post-surgery recoveries require heel raises, especially those involving the lower limbs. To perform heel raises, stand flat on the ground, then raise your heels off the floor by standing on your toes. Hold the raised position briefly before lowering your heels back down. 

Relaxed and Deep Breathing

To promote overall well-being, relaxed and deep breathing exercises are fundamental during post-surgery physiotherapy. To practise, sit or lie comfortably, placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. As you deeply inhale through your nose, your lungs will fill with air. Allow your abdomen to rise as this happens. Feel your abdomen fall as you slowly exhale through your mouth.

How to Manage Post-Surgical Pain and Discomfort

post surgery pain

Recovery from surgery often involves managing pain and discomfort effectively. Physiotherapy offers a multifaceted approach, ensuring patients’ well-being and fostering a smoother healing process.


Your doctor will prescribe suitable medications for your surgery. 

Physiotherapists might recommend supplementary medication if necessary and can offer valuable advice on medicines, ensuring they complement your physiotherapy sessions effectively and without adverse effects. You must follow the dosage prescribed when taking medication.

Relaxation and Distraction Techniques

Physiotherapists employ relaxation and distraction techniques to alleviate upper body tension and encourage deeper, controlled breathing. These techniques not only distract from pain but also help in managing it more effectively. By promoting relaxation, patients can cope better with discomfort, fostering a positive mindset crucial for recovery.

Wound Support

Proper wound support is vital for minimising pain and preventing complications. Physiotherapists manage bandages, tape, and other dressings, providing adequate support without impeding circulation or causing discomfort. By handling wound support, physiotherapists facilitate optimal healing conditions, reducing pain and discomfort associated with wounds. Physiotherapists may suggest specific lotions and creams to enhance wound recovery.  


Targeted massage is beneficial in post-surgical recovery. Massage delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the affected area by increasing blood flow, which expedites healing. This enhanced circulation not only speeds up recovery but also reduces pain significantly. Physiotherapists employ specialised massage techniques tailored to individual needs, ensuring a bespoke approach that maximises healing benefits.

Incorporating these methods into your physiotherapy regimen creates a holistic pain management strategy. By addressing pain from multiple angles — medication for internal relief, relaxation techniques for mental well-being, wound support for physical comfort, and therapeutic massages for enhanced healing — you are better prepared to manage post-surgical discomfort effectively.

Additionally, it’s crucial to adhere to physiotherapist-prescribed protocols. They will monitor your progress, adjusting techniques and medications as necessary. Understanding the legalities around medication usage and physiotherapist-prescribed supplements is also essential; always consult medical professionals for accurate information.

This approach allows individuals to navigate the post-surgical period with reduced pain, enhanced comfort, and a renewed focus on recovery.

Therapeutic Ultrasounds 

Utilising therapeutic ultrasounds offers a pain-free, non-invasive treatment method to induce local and deep heat to a specific area and effectively treat various injuries, including muscle swelling. The induced deep heat can enhance recovery, reduce stiffness, and improve the patient’s blood flow. 

During this process, a physiotherapist would apply a gel to the area being treated. They would then move the transducer head over the skin.

If you are looking for therapeutic ultrasounds, bodytonic offers these sessions during physiotherapy. The program would take between one and ten minutes, depending on the injury being treated.

Tools and Equipment For Post-Surgery Rehabilitation

after surgery home aids

Some patients require assistance to resume their regular activities post-surgery, and the right tools and equipment are pivotal in this transitional phase.

Care Aids

There are various care aids available to support people as they recover. These aids can include the following:

  • Crutches and walkers provide balance and keep weight off injured body parts.
  • Reachers and grabbers prevent overreaching and maintain safety during daily tasks.
  • Raised toilet seats stop you from sitting too low, increasing comfort.
  • Bathboards and shower stools offer support during washing.
  • Bottom wipers aid personal hygiene.
  • Bedpans and urinals are essential for patients unable to walk to the bathroom, ensuring regular bowel movements – vital for overall health.

Exercise Bands

Exercise bands are versatile tools that strengthen muscles and bones without requiring extensive body movement. Made from elastic rubber, these bands offer a lighter alternative to weights. Their varying resistance levels cater to individual needs, enabling patients to target specific areas according to strength disparities.

People can gradually regain strength, flexibility and range of motion with therapy, loop, and figure-eight bands, even if balance and mobility pose challenges.

Some exercise band types include the following:

  • Therapy bands offer varying resistance levels, enabling tailored strength training.
  • Loop bands, designed in a closed-loop shape, aid in gentle stretching and muscle toning.
  • Figure-eight bands help isolate specific muscles and are helpful for both upper and lower body exercises.

These bands facilitate progressive workouts, allowing patients to rebuild strength, improve flexibility, and regain mobility after surgery. Their adaptability makes them suitable for individuals at various stages of recovery, ensuring a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation.

Home Exercise Programmes

Home exercise programmes (HEP) are tailored to individual goals to bolster health, well-being, and independence. These programmes encompass mobilising, stretching, and strengthening exercises. They support independent living and boost self-confidence for patients by promoting faster recovery and enhancing strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Home exercise programmes encompass various movements, from sport-specific routines to balance exercises, muscle control, pain management, and functional activities. By increasing blood supply and overall fitness levels, these programmes accelerate healing, ensuring a smoother journey to a fulfilling, active life.

Incorporating these tools, equipment, and exercise regimens into post-surgical recovery plans is pivotal. They aid not only physical recovery but also mental resilience and confidence. Through a combination of professional guidance and these essential aids, patients can navigate the challenges that come after their procedure, empowering themselves to reclaim their lives post-surgery.

Keep in mind that a slight amount of discomfort is unavoidable to progress through the recovery process. Whenever an exercise is triggering pain, stiffness, or swelling, you should always tell your physiotherapist so he can adjust the program to your needs.

Returning Back to Normal After Your Surgery

As you progress back to normalcy post-surgery, it’s crucial to acknowledge that fatigue is a natural part of the process. Heeding your doctor’s and physiotherapist’s advice is paramount. Despite this, it’s essential to keep moving, ensuring continuous blood circulation to not only aid physical healing but also help mental well-being.

Aim to progressively reintegrate aspects of your pre-surgery routine, tailoring activities to your energy levels. A balanced diet and maintaining fitness are vital in overall recovery. 

Remember, as each one of us is different, the pace of your recovery is unique, determined by the specific surgery and your doctor’s recommendations. Patience, persistence, and adherence to professional guidance make your recovery smoother and more effective.

Do You Need  Post-Surgery Physiotherapy?

How do you know if physiotherapy post-surgery is right for you? If you contend with stiffness, muscle weakness, or diminished mobility, it’s a sign that targeted rehabilitation could be beneficial. A comprehensive physiotherapy regimen is highly recommended for those eager to expedite their recovery, alleviate pain, and swiftly resume their daily activities.

If you need post-surgery physiotherapy in London, bodytonic can support you as you recover from your procedure. We specialise in a range of physiotherapy techniques tailored to your unique needs. Our expert therapists are dedicated to guiding you through a personalised recovery plan, helping you regain your strength, mobility, and vitality with our specialised services. 

If you have any questions or require personalised guidance on the best treatment for you, don’t hesitate to explore our site or contact us directly at bodytonic to see how we can support your physiotherapy needs today.