Sponsored: Taking Proper Care After Surgery


Therapist George Wilson works with a patient at his Hamptons Physical Therapy studio on Bay Street in Sag Harbor.

Anyone who is due for or has gotten a shoulder surgery, total joint replacement, or even spinal surgery asks the question “how long will it take to recover?”  Whether you just need to get back to work or are wondering about your favorite pastimes like golf or tennis, a surgery is often an inconvenience. But when pain persists, many times surgery becomes inevitable.

So let’s lets take shoulder surgery as our example (e.g. rotator cuff repairs, biceps or torn labrum repairs). On average physical therapy usually begins week 2 or 3 after surgery. When patients consult me about what to expect I don’t try to sugar coat it. “Honestly, the first month…sucks” I tell them, which is always received with a laugh. I emphasize that they shouldn’t attempt to be champions and not take their prescribed pain relief medication. It’s almost impossible due to the initial pain that goes along with this surgery and, if not taken, becomes detrimental to a patient’s speedy and overall recovery from the surgery.

George Wilson in his physical therapy studio with “successful” patient Joe Roperto.

One of my former patients tells a funny story about his wife hiding his prescribed pain relief and his subsequent suffering that took place for weeks after surgery. He came to me in such agony that it was clear something was out of place. After a week of therapy, I brought the subject up to him (with his wife present) in which his wife replied that he was only taking Tylenol. My patient then chimed in adding “Yeah, Kathy Bates over here is looking after me.” Well after that conversation let’s just say things changed and the patient made rapid improvements since the intense pain signals in his body were finally being targeted, allowing for range of motion and functional improvements.

After the first month, regular doctor prescribed physical therapy sessions (usually 2-3 times each week) continues and is focused on the therapist moving your shoulder until full passive range of motion is achieved. Around week 6 your doctor will then allow active movements and strengthening to begin.

Here at my Sag Harbor practice, I put together a strength and flexibility protocol that I’ve used successfully for years. I also invested in very specialized machines to allow for smooth movements to emphasize the various planes of movement the shoulder naturally moves in.

With the proper post-operative rehabilitation you can expect your shoulder to take three months to feel good, four months to feel great and six months to feel “normal.” You can expect to be back to work in three months (depending, of course, on your physical work demands) and back to most leisure activities within four to five months. However, ongoing strength and flexibility exercises are crucial to protect your “investment” and help prevent additional shoulder injuries. And remember, if you get through the first month it starts getting easier. Just make sure Kathy isn’t watching you sleep.

Hamptons Physical Therapy is located at 34 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. Visit www.hamptonspt.com or call 631-919-5189 to schedule a visit. 

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