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8 Mistakes to Avoid Post-Surgery

8 Mistakes to Avoid Post-Surgery

Surgery for an injury can be a scary process, particularly regarding what to expect afterward. As you recover from surgery, you need to be aware of several things, including common mistakes you might make without realizing it until later on. These may include skipping doctor visits, taking medication incorrectly, and not getting enough rest.

It is important to avoid these mistakes so that the recovery process can go smoothly and your body doesn’t have to work too hard in its current state. Ignoring proper post-surgery care can often lead to more severe health problems in the future, so you must keep the following common mistakes in mind to help optimize your post-op experience.

1. Doing Too Much

Many people believe that they may return to their old activities immediately after having surgery. This is not necessarily true. Depending on the type of procedure and certain postoperative restrictions, you may not even be allowed to put weight on your leg or arm for some time. It is essential to follow the specific direction of your physician and physical therapist to ensure a safe recovery.

2. Not Moving Enough

In contrast to our last point, some activity after surgery is necessary and must be done once your surgeon clears you to do so. Lying in bed for too long, for example, can increase your risk for complications such as blood clots, pressure sores, and muscle atrophy. Sit up and move around as much as you’re allowed to avoid this.

3. Not Getting Enough Sleep/Rest

The body heals itself best when you get consistent sleep. Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary, but most will require anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Set your room to a comfortable temperature, minimize phone/computer usage late at night, and try to darken your bedroom as much as possible.

4. Not Eating or Drinking Enough

Similar to sleeping, food/water also plays a crucial role in recovery. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Good quality food with an emphasis on protein is essential – this is a vital macronutrient responsible for building and maintaining muscle.

5. Not Icing Enough

Icing will be your friend during the early phases of your recovery. It is excellent for addressing pain and reducing swelling. 10-15 minutes of ice applied every hour immediately after surgery will be most effective. It is also helpful as you progress through your rehabilitation program.

6. Not Taking Meds

While your physical therapist will be helping you manage pain through manual therapy techniques and other effective treatments, prescribed medication can help you sleep better, reduce inflammation, and address pain. 

7. Skipping Rehab Sessions

Many surgeries require extended recovery. This can range anywhere between 4 weeks to 18  months, depending on the procedure. Your physical therapist at Midtown Rehabilitation Center is specifically trained in the details of your surgery and will work with you to prescribe an individualized and supervised program, including manual therapy techniques and strengthening/mobility protocols. This is done to make sure you progress through your rehabilitation safely and effectively. Be sure to stay consistent and keep your appointments!

8. Not Doing Your Prescribed Exercises

Your physical therapist at Coral Gables Rehabilitation will be prescribing exercises for you to do regularly to ensure you progress safely through your rehab program. These are designed for you based on your surgical procedure. Performing them as directed is a top priority.


If you recently had any surgery, following through with proper post-op care is vital to your overall long-term health.  Make sure to stay consistent with all your doctor’s recommendations, whether it’s physical therapy sessions, changes to your diet, or exercises prescribed for you. Listening to the experts, asking questions, and staying informed is the key to a speedy recovery.

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Dr. Kevin Mills is a board-certified orthopedic physical therapist (OCS). He holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from the University of Miami, where he graduated with honors in 2009. Dr. Mills is specialized in advanced physical therapy and manual therapy techniques, as well as the treatment of chronic pain.