Do You Need Physical Therapy After an Ankle Surgery?

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Ankle injuries can result in long, painful healing processes. If your doctor recommends surgery, you may think the procedure will automatically heal your issue. The only question is, do you need physical therapy after an ankle surgery?

At Exchange Physical Therapy Group, we specialize in post-surgical physical therapy in Jersey City. Our team uses state-of-the-art techniques to help post-op patients restore their quality of life. Read on to learn what you can expect from physical therapy after ankle surgery. 

What To Expect From Physical Therapy After an Ankle Surgery 

To learn what type of physical therapy you’ll need after an ankle surgery, you need to understand the different types of procedures and how a physical therapist helps the body heal. We discuss everything you need to know below. 

Types of Ankle Surgeries 

The type of procedure your surgeon performs depends on your injury. Common ankle injuries include ligament sprains and tears, bone fractures and breaks, joint dislocations, and bursitis. You can develop ankle injuries from sudden traumatic accidents, like tripping or rolling your ankle, or by overusing the joint, causing issues over time. 

The most common ankle surgeries include the following:

  • Damaged tendon repairs
  • Joint structure realignments
  • Damaged tissue removals
  • Ankle joint replacements
  • Ankle joint fusing

Each of the above procedures requires different healing times, though they will all likely involve physical therapy. 

How Physical Therapy Helps the Healing Process

So, do you need physical therapy after an ankle surgery? Yes, you do; as your body heals from the surgery, your muscles will become atrophied from the lack of movement. Your ankles may swell, scar tissue may build, and blood clots can form. You need physical therapy to restore your strength, range of motion, and overall joint health. 

Many issues can arise post-op. Your physical therapists will help you mitigate these issues by working with you to ensure that you’re on the right path toward recovery. With physical therapy, you can:

  • Prevent blood clots
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Remove scar tissue
  • Restore your range of motion and strength
  • Improve joint mobilization
  • Prevent re-injury

The Initial Physical Therapy Assessment

During your first physical therapy appointment, your provider will assess your ankle’s condition to create a custom treatment plan aligning with your pain levels, restrictions, and more. The assessment will likely involve measuring the following items:

  • Swelling
  • Range of motion
  • Pain level
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Overall mobility
  • Weight-bearing ability
  • Gait

After this assessment, your physical therapist will create a treatment schedule that may involve weekly visits, multi-weekly appointments, at-home exercises, monthly check-ins, and more.

What Types of Treatments Will the Physical Therapy Include?

Physical therapy involves a range of exercises, treatments, and tools to help you regain your strength. Your physical therapist may recommend the following techniques:

  • Passive exercises, where the physical therapist moves the joint for you
  • Manual joint therapy to reduce stiffness
  • Mobilization to break down scar tissue
  • Dry needling to improve muscle tension
  • Electric stimulation to improve muscle strength
  • Kinesiology taping to reduce swelling and pain
  • Weight exercises
  • Flexibility and balance training
  • And more

You can practice some exercises at home to expedite the process. Your physical therapist will likely give you an at-home guide with daily exercise routines. 

How Long Will the Physical Therapy Process Take?

You must wait around two to four weeks after surgery to start physical therapy. From there, you will likely begin with rigorous appointments to rebuild strength. 

You may stay in physical therapy for around six to eight weeks, depending on the surgery you’ve had, your age, how you’re recovering, and what level of fitness you’re hoping to return to. For example, athletes may need to stay in physical therapy for numerous months before returning to training. 

Regain Your Strength by Booking an Appointment Today

So, do you need physical therapy after an ankle surgery? Yes, since physical therapy helps your body recover correctly after the injury and procedure. Learn when to start physical therapy, then schedule an appointment with our team at Exchange Physical Therapy Group in Jersey City by calling (201) 721-6130.