Rehabilitation after Surgery – Sydney City CBD

In order to make a full recovery, rehabilitation is vital after any kind of surgery. The duration and extent of the rehabilitation varies with each individual – their age, previous fitness and the type of surgery.

Even similar cases may have significantly different paths to healing and recovery. At Macquarie Street Physiotherapy, we take into consideration your individual circumstances in order to tailor your rehabilitation plan. Major decisions about restriction of activity and timing of progression are made by your surgeon, and we follow their protocol closely.


After orthopaedic surgery, most people will experience swelling, pain, stiffness and weakness. Your physiotherapist will liaise with your surgeon and follow their post-surgical guidelines. They may use ice, ultrasound, massage, tape and exercise and will suggest activities to do at home.


Surgery may have been necessary for a long-standing condition such as knee, hip or shoulder replacement due to arthritis, or for a new (acute) condition. Acute conditions are many and varied and may include shoulder or knee (ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction due to injury or a broken bone (fracture) which requires surgical correction with pins and plates. We also see patients following spinal surgery, such as laminectomy, discectomy, nerve decompression or fusion.


Usually your surgeon or hospital physiotherapist will have given you recommendations and encouragement regarding the appropriate level of exercise. It may involve walking, bike or swimming. A gentle balance needs to be maintained between the amount of strengthening or mobility exercises undertaken without prematurely overtaxing the area where surgery took place. Specific exercises should be taught and monitored by a physiotherapist.


In the case of joint replacement, the cartilage lining of the joint is replaced and there is often an immediate resultant reduction in pain within that joint. However, prior to surgery the neighbouring tissues are likely to have become stiff and the muscles weak. After surgery, exercises to improve their strength, balance and joint movement are given. If there are issues relating to walking or day-to-day activities, your physiotherapist can help with this. We also can recommend hydrotherapy classes which may provide additional benefits to your physio management.

In the case of joint reconstruction, the supporting structures of the joint—that is, ligaments and/or tendons that have been torn or stretched—are strengthened by a number of surgical methods. Rehabilitation will often have to be carefully staged so as not to overstrain these tissues. Strength and movement are slowly regained with guidance from your physiotherapist.

Following surgery for fractures, the limb is still often kept in plaster. When the plaster is removed, immobilised joints will need to be carefully mobilised to gradually regain movement, and weak muscles will gradually need to be strengthened.

If you have had spinal surgery, core exercises will be high on the list, along with neural mobilising exercises, balance, and exercises to strengthen muscles which may have been weakened due to nerve compression.


If you have any reports relating to your surgery, or your surgeon’s protocol and exercises from the hospital physio, bring them along to your appointment. If you have no paperwork, we can contact your surgeon if we have questions about your management.

At Macquarie Street Physiotherapy, after any type of surgery, we not only look at the area involved, but also at the condition of the entire body. Let us help you return to good overall fitness and flexibility. If you live or work near the Sydney City CBD contact us on (02) 9221 1604 to discuss how we can facilitate your rehabilitation.