Physical Therapy

When will I start physical therapy?  If you have an in-patient procedure ad stay over, PT will start the next day and will continue with a therapist that comes to your home for the first two weeks. If you have a day surgery procedure, physical therapy will usually begin within 1-2 weeks, depending on your procedure. Generally, outpatient PT is preferable to in-home therapy give that the therapists have more equipment at their office.

What will I do during physical therapy?  The primary goal of physical therapy is to initially increase ROM so that you do not get stiff following surgery.  You will then begin to work on increasing strength after surgery.  You will be provided with a detailed protocol of what you should and should not be doing at each post-operative phase. You will provide this to your physical therapist. You can also refer your therapist to our PT/Rehab section on this website.

When do I need to wear my brace?  This depends on your specific procedure and you will get instructions after surgery. If you have a brace, you will need to wear it anytime you are up moving around on your crutches to protect your leg in case you fall.  You do not need to wear your brace for sleeping or when you are sitting.

How long will I need to use my crutches?  Depending on the type of surgery that is being performed, you will need to use your crutches between 4 and 6 weeks on average.

When can I drive?  For patients undergoing right leg surgical intervention you may not legally drive until you have re-established good control and bear full weight.  For patients undergoing left knee surgery that do not drive standard transmission vehicles you may return to driving between 1 and 2 weeks but only when you are not taking pain medication.

When can I shower?  You may shower 3 days after surgery but may not submerge your incision in water such as a pool, hot tub, bathtub, lake or the ocean for 3 weeks.

When can I go back to work?  This will be different for each patient and depends largely on the type of work you do.  Most patients who work in a sedentary position or desk work will be back to work between 2 days for small arthroscopic procedures, and 2 weeks for more involved procedures that require narcotic pain medications.  Those patients who work in more labor intensive jobs may be out of work for up to 12 weeks but Dr. Gomoll and his team will discuss this with you.

How will my pain be controlled after surgery? Immediately following surgery your pain will be controlled using IV pain medication in the recovery room.  You will be sent home from the hospital with a prescription for oral pain medication to be filled at your local pharmacy.  The most commonly prescribed post-op pain medication include Tramadol, while stronger medications such as Vicodin, Oxycodone or Dilaudid are prescribed for more involved procedures. For the latter, patients will require regularly scheduled doses of pain medication (every 4-6 hours) for the first one to two weeks.  Thereafter you will begin to limit your pain medication use to prior to physical therapy and prior to bedtime.  Most patients will not require any pain medication past week 4 and we will refer you to a pain management service if you require more long term medication.  

Please understand that we will limit the amount of narcotics we prescribe due to the worsening opioid epidemic. You can find further information on this topic here.

To request medication refills please be sure to set up a patient gateway account prior to surgery to request your refills through our Epic Patient Gateway portal. If this is not set up in time you may make a request by e-mailing GomollOffice@HSS.edu (please note that email communication is not considered to be secure), or calling 212-606-1775.

I don’t like how narcotic pain medication makes me feel, can I take something else? You may use Tylenol (acetaminophen) for pain control following surgical intervention.  However, you should refrain from using any anti-inflammatory if you had an osteotomy or cartilage transplant unless recommended by Dr Gomoll, as they can delay bone healing or cartilage cell growth.  These anti-inflammatory medications include medications such as Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Celebrex.

Who do I call if I have a question prior to my surgery? If you have questions regarding your upcoming surgery you may contact Dr Gomoll's physician assistant GomollOffice@HSS.edu