Many patients ask me what they can do following regenerative procedures to ensure that their treatment yields the best possible outcome. Here at Regenexx Pittsburgh, we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver the best regenerative treatment for the individual needs of our patients. However, patients also need to be aware of their role in recovery following treatments. In most cases, the biomechanics of the body tend to be significantly disrupted by both acute and chronic injury. Usually, the more chronic the injury, the more prominent the loss of appropriate strength and biomechanics. Most people don’t realize the negative impact this has on baseline strength around joints and loss of postural support in structures like the spine and the pelvis. If the muscles don’t do their job, or if they don’t have the endurance to do that job for extended periods, then the joint or other structures will likely suffer due to the imbalance or early fatigue.
Once the regenerative treatment is completed, it becomes the responsibility of the patient to remain proactive in the progression of their healing. The means to achieving the best results is through maximizing the strength and stability. I often will compare the process to changing a tire on a car. If performed properly, additional balancing and alignment will help to optimize the life and performance of the new tire. If this is not performed, or only partially accomplished to save on cost, then the tire will likely wear out more quickly, possibly leading to more damage and more cost in the long term.
The best way to achieve alignment and balance of a joint or the spine is through a course of appropriately prescribed and appropriately executed physical therapy. I say appropriately prescribed because some specifics of the therapy regimen should be considered by the physician depending on a patient’s treatment and goals. The physical therapist and the treating physician should work closely and communicate effectively throughout the patient’s progress. This way, roadblocks along the course of care can be avoided, or easily overcome to allow for better treatment in a shorter amount of time. Appropriate execution of the therapy revolves around seeking treatment from a therapist well-versed in addressing issues related to musculoskeletal and spine pain.
Now, I have heard all the reasons that people will give for trying to skirt the task of attenting regular physical therapy. “I’m active all day at work”… “I work-out regularly on my own”… “I’m strong enough without any of that.” The reality is that while people may have enough muscle strength to perform basic function, this is not enough when it comes to higher level activity. Even climbing stairs can be a challenge, whether pain is present or not. Even if the joint feels better, the muscle strength still needs to be addressed to achieve better activity performance.
The short answer to the question at hand is YES. Physical therapy is extremely important, if not necessary, following regenerative treatment in order to maximize functional strength and improve activity for patients.