What Type of Therapy Is Needed After Elbow Surgery?

After elbow surgery, many people have problems with limited movement and either acute or chronic pain. It’s a common effect after undergoing surgery because some results do not occur overnight. One or more different types of physical therapy are included in the next steps.

Exercises to Increase Range of Movement

Pain is the main complaint after elbow surgery. Immediate relief is achieved by taking painkiller pills or injections that are shot directly into the muscle. The long-term solution is to engage in exercises that increase the elbow’s range of movement. Repeated stretching helps to relief the stiffness that still remains after an operation.

A physical therapist will recommend regular at-home exercises. This is necessary to maintain effective, long-lasting results until all of the symptoms are gone. It may be weeks or months until your elbow heals completely. If you exercise only once a week, the body takes longer to heal on its own. Avoiding exercise altogether may result in no progress at all. For whatever plan your therapist recommends, it’s important to remain consistent.

Water Therapy

In heated water, muscles tend to relax more easily and become less tense over time. Some physical therapists practice exercises inside of a hot tub or pool. Some patients claim that lying in warm water for several minutes is a major relief. Patients are encouraged to request this treatment as an added benefit to regular exercising.

Electrical Stimulation

Few people approve of the idea of shock therapy. However, electrical stimulation is the use of electrical pulses that are delivered directly to the damaged muscle. The muscle is forced to contract and move to relieve some stiffness. This device is regularly used by paralyzed individuals on a lifelong basis, but it’s useful for anyone with muscular problems. The results are immediate yet short lasting, so other methods should be included.


Ultrasound therapy is the use of high-frequency sound waves to relieve muscle strains, sprains and inflammation. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is effective at stimulating responses in injured tissues, so it’s recommended to treat tennis elbow and may help in the residual effects of surgery.

Most medical treatments do not stop at elbow surgery and need to be continued for long afterwards. The truth is that many different types of physical therapies exist. The treatment that your doctor gives depends on the extent of the elbow injury, your schedule and his or her specializations. Plano Orthopedic Sports Medicine & Spine Center provides a wide range of solutions for people who have post-procedural conditions in Plano, TX.

Therapy Center

6363 North Dallas Pkwy. Suite #207
Frisco, TX 75034
Phone: 972-250-5777
Fax: 855-271-2432
Hours: Monday – Thursday 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Friday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Contact us to set an Appointment