How Do You Rehab Your Knee After Total Joint Replacement?

Caring For Your Knees In The Best Way Possible

The knees are vital for movement, but 1 in 4 people suffer from knee pain. Most cases of knee pain happen due to arthritis, the general wear and tear of the cartilage. Sometimes the pain, stiffness, and limited movement are so severe, surgery is necessary. More and more patients are choosing a total joint replacement as the surgery is easier and more effective.

Time for TKR

A total knee replacement (TKR) is an effective method to treat long-term knee pain caused by arthritis. The goal of surgery is to remove the damaged bone and cartilage to install prosthetic parts. Small incisions allow the surgeon to insert an arthroscope, which projects an image of the knee on a screen. Small tools remove the diseased bone and cartilage, and the surgeon then installs a metal or plastic replacement. TKR is an outpatient procedure. However, effective rehab is necessary for a successful outcome.

Rehab starts outside of the operating room

Some patients start the recovery process immediately after surgery. There will still be some pain and stiffness after the procedure. With a rehabilitation regimen, patients will reduce pain, improve strength and range of motion. Knee replacement patients work with a physical therapist to improve blood flow and reduce pain within the coming days. The patient will be encouraged to walk short distances with a walker to improve circulation and strength.

Continuing the rehab

The rehab process should intensify in the following week after minimally invasive surgery. The goal is to get the body accustomed to the new joint. At this stage, the patient should start working with a physical therapist or medical team. First, the therapist will help the patient go through a range of extension and flexion exercises. These will help improve strength. Further exercises like step-ups help improve balance, side-to-side movement, and agility. After the exercises, hot and cold therapy and other pain management techniques are recommended.

Working with an outpatient therapist

Between the third and fourth weeks, knee replacement patients will be able to move further distances. In some cases, the patient can return to light desk work and other simple activities. Outpatient therapy is essential at this stage. These are facilities that can further improve strength and range of motion. Physical therapists may use stationary bikes, aqua aerobics, massage, and other techniques to improve strength and flexibility.

Wrapping things up

By the 8-week mark, some patients can walk far distances, easily climb stairs, and even participate in non-contact sports. Physical therapy continues at this stage to improve strength and balance. Patients are also encouraged to perform exercises at home, such as leg extensions, leg raises, hip extensions, and squats. If all goes well, the rehabilitation process should take 8-12 weeks. After that, however, the patient may need several more months to feel the full effects of surgery.

Trust the rehab process

More and more patients are turning to total knee replacements to treat severe, long-term pain. Surgeons continue to see improved success and satisfaction rates. However, surgery is only as good as the rehab plan behind the procedure. Rehab must start as soon as possible with exercises to improve strength, agility, and balance. After rehab, patients are encouraged to keep exercising for better long-term results.


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