PT for Postponed Procedures

Caitlin Hard
Caitlin Hard Executive Assistant at AHS

What can you do if your orthopedic surgery has been postponed due to        COVID-19? 

In an effort to reserve and distribute personnel and equipment for severely ill patients, hospitals around the United States have opted to postpone many elective surgeries.

According to OrthoInfo, an elective surgery is “a procedure that is done for a medical condition that is not urgent or life-threatening.” Many orthopedic conditions that require surgery, albeit very painful, are not life-threatening, and thus, fall into this category.

In the meantime, several orthopedic conditions can be treated with physical therapy to help alleviate painful symptoms until your surgery is rescheduled. According to research, in some cases, completing pre-surgical physical therapy can lead to better recovery outcomes after your procedure. The following conditions are examples of orthopedic conditions that can benefit from physical therapy intervention.

Sports Injuries

If your surgery for a sports-related injury such as a labral tear or an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear has been postponed, participating in physical therapy in the meantime may beneficial to you.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments in the knee that help stabilize the joint. The ACL is often injured while performing activities that involve sudden stops, changes in direction, or jumping. For athletes hoping return to their sport, or patients that are young and active, ACL reconstruction surgery is typically recommended to restore full function of the joint. For others, physical therapy alone may be sufficient to recover from an ACL injury.

For individuals who plan to undergo an ACL reconstruction, studies have shown that patients who participate in pre-surgical physical therapy may return to their sports quicker, and have better functional outcomes following the operation. While waiting for a postponed surgery, physical therapists can help patients strengthen the muscles in the affected leg, maintain range of motion and increase stability in the joint.


It may be disappointing if your surgery for a chronic condition such as arthritis has been postponed. If you are awaiting a joint replacement surgery, physical therapy may be able to resolve some of the pain you are experiencing without aggressive pain killers or injections.

One of the most common joint replacement surgeries that physical therapists rehab is a knee replacement caused by osteoarthritis of the knee. Prior to surgery, physical therapists can help patients strengthen the hip and thigh muscles of the affected leg, maintain range of motion in the arthritic joint, suggest modifications for activities and movements that cause pain, or apply ice or heat to the affected knee.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

As discussed in our most recent blog post, physical therapy can be beneficial for a large range of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) symptoms. While you are awaiting your CTS surgery, physical therapy can help relieve pain in the wrist and strengthen and stretch the muscles and tissues of the joint. For milder cases of CTS, conservative treatment options like physical therapy alone may be enough to resolve CTS symptoms.

Discuss with your surgeon and one of our therapists at AHS to find out if pre-surgery physical therapy is a good option for you!


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