What to do when they tell you your upcoming surgery is "non-essential"...

Have you or someone you know had their “non-essential” surgery delayed due to Covid-19? If so, here is what you can do!


In March of 2020, we had many calls and questions come through with people desperate for answers to their pain problems. At that time, many surgeries had been postponed and deemed “non-essential” secondary to the Covid-19 pandemic. The scope of these surgical procedures spanned everything from total knee and hip replacements to shoulder rotator cuff tears. Oftentimes when an individual has opted for surgery, they are experiencing significant pain and/or restriction in ability to do every day tasks.


Today, due to rising Covid-19 cases and hospital restrictions, many individuals are continuing to report delays in their scheduled surgeries and further frustration with hope for recovery getting more and more slim.


Fear not, for there is still hope for you yet!


People are often surprised when I tell them how beneficial physical therapy BEFORE surgery can be! The common thought process goes something like this… “If I have to have surgery, there’s obviously nothing I can do until I am fixed.” While widely believed (even sometimes amongst the medical community), this could not be further from the truth! Here’s why...


  1. Controlled and properly prescribed movement helps to alleviate pain! Strong medical research has shown again and again that properly prescribed and dosed exercise and movement (yes, just like a medication) can be one of the most effective ways to control pain and improve joint health even when significant arthritis is present.

  2. Even though you are having surgery on one area of the body, other areas are also affected! Let’s use the example of the total knee replacement. During the surgery, the two surfaces of the joint are replaced to allow for pain-free contact and motion to occur at the joint. However, what most people don’t realize is the cascading effect of problems that occur simply due to the knee arthritis. First the way that we walk begins to change (or as we say, compensate). Certain muscles around the area become weak over time, others become tight. Joints at surrounding areas also begin to move differently. It’s not uncommon for an individual to have complaints of hip or low back pain prior to the knee surgery. All this can (and must!) be treated and corrected to ensure the best possible out for your surgery.

  3. Physical Therapy before surgery can speed up your recovery! Studies have reported nearly a 30% decrease in recovery time for patients receiving Physical Therapy treatment prior to total hip and knee replacement surgeries. This time can be significant as the average FULL recovery following a total knee replacement can range from 6-12 months (back to 100%)!

  4. You will not lose your gains! Another common misconception is that any work and progress attained prior to surgery will be lost following. This is 100% false! Improvements in our pain levels, muscle strength and flexibility, walking patterns, and balance all carry over well following surgery. In fact, having stronger and more flexible muscles prior to surgery will help you to recover and be back on your feet faster!


Have you or someone you know had their surgery postponed? Are you having more trouble getting around and maybe even reconsidering that surgery in the first place?

If yes, Click here to schedule a 15 minute phone call with a physical therapist to determine what your best options are moving forward, and how to get back to your best health ASAP!


P.S. If you’ve got back pain that’s stopping you from being able to keep active right now, click the following link and you can download our free back pain guide to help you get moving again: www.roscoephysio.com/backpain


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