I often encounter these individuals as they wait on the list for their operation. They say to me, "Oh, great, I can come see you after my surgery.
My answer: "Great, but why not see me now?"
This isn't just a personal plug. (Although I know that I make a lot of them, so it's hard to tell.) There are true benefits to beginning treatment and rehab BEFORE you get your surgery, however. By doing so, you're actually greatly improving the speed of your recovery and the overall outcome!
Firstly, let's remember that any injuries are seldom isolated to a single joint. Especially in the case of chronic issues, but also in acute ones, conditions result from a combination of mechanical deficits up and down the kinetic chain. Addressing these early on will alleviate the joint from aggravation both before the surgery as well as afterward as it works on recovering. Letting those issues remain, on the other hand, might cause them to excel and create an even tougher environment for your body to heal throughout after surgery.
But if keeping the joints above and below your surgical site is too much of a stretch, then let's consider the site itself. True, you may have an injury or degeneration in the area, but by keeping the musculature surrounding it as strong as possible and maintaining proprioceptive control, you're setting yourself up to have those facets return to you much more quickly after the operation.
And of course, there's no denying that overall fitness will greatly improve your body's ability to move, circulate blood, and heal more quickly as well.
If that's not enough, let's also just recall how significantly pre-surgical rehab is able to delay the need for surgery, potentially alleviating your symptoms enough to put the operation date off for years to come. (And sometimes, even eliminating the need for it altogether!) To me, that sounds like it's worth giving some early exercise a try.
So my advice to anyone who's waiting around for the phone to ring with a surgery date is to not simply sit around, allowing your body to decondition even further, and then expecting the surgery to be a final, quick fix. Get a head start on your recovery well before even stepping into that hospital room, start addressing your symptoms now, and minimize the complications following the operation later.