When will I get better? How long will this take? Why does it hurt so much, and it’s not better yet?
We hear these questions all the time in physical therapy. After surgery or an injury, your body is trying to heal itself through regular and predictable stages. Unfortunately, we cannot rush through the stages by just trying harder. You certainly can slow down the recovery by doing too much or too little during each stage.
For example, during the early phase of an injury or after surgery, your body goes through an inflammatory phase which is a natural reaction to the injury. By simply exercising “harder”, you can further aggravate this inflammatory process. By doing nothing and just lying around for weeks on end, your body will also stiffen up, ultimately causing loss of range of motion to be able to perform your activities.
There is a balance between how hard and how easy to exercise during your recovery time. We are typically trying to gradually make gains with range of motion and then strength as you work through your rehabilitation. You will have ups and downs, plateaus, and feelings of frustration when things don’t progress smoothly or at a regular rate. Remember, this is not unusual. We do expect our patients to make regular progress on a weekly or biweekly basis. Patience is the key!
Also, ask yourself if you are doing everything as instructed by your therapist. If you are negligent in performing your home exercise program, you cannot expect to see the same results as if you were faithful in performing the exercises. Probably the biggest obstacle in a person’s recovery is their lack of adherence to their home program.
So be faithful about doing your exercises, doing them properly and regularly!
Steve Bartz, PT