One of the most common surgeries that orthopedic surgeons perform is a total knee replacement.
It can be an emotional time for patients, as they are not only dealing with post-surgical pain but also rehab to get back on their feet. The first thing you should know about rehabilitation after surgery is what to expect at the hospital following your procedure.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know after total knee replacement surgery. All of this physical therapy information is to ensure you get the proper care your knee deserves.
So here are some things to keep in mind so that you have a successful recovery!
Recovery Timeline for Knee Replacement Surgery
One of the most common questions patients ask after knee replacement surgery is how quickly they expect to recover. The recovery timeline varies slightly depending on age, weight, and general health.
If you have had surgery, the physiotherapist will come to your room within 24 hours of your operation. You’ll start by standing and moving around using crutches or a walk. This is so that you don’t lose muscle strength after being bedridden for days post-op.
Your medication has been prescribed beforehand. This means less discomfort while recovering at home alone once discharged!
This is important because it minimizes atrophy caused by extended time in bed. It reduces other medical complications associated with immobilization, like blood clots and pneumonia.
You will then attend an outpatient physiotherapy clinic where you visit a physio twice weekly for 30 minutes. You will then slowly reduce your appointments as needed.
However, rehab is not over yet because there’s still lots of work that needs doing following this period! Barring any complications, you can expect to be discharged from the hospital after 3 days.
After you’ve recovered, rehab will focus on continuing to improve your mobility with an exercise program. This is to help build strength and range of motion.
Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery
Mobility is also another important factor to consider when it comes to physical therapy. This is because there are certain activities that you will need help with during the first few weeks. This includes showering, getting in and out of bed or chairs, as well as climbing stairs.
The first key milestone is reaching 90 degrees of knee flexion. This will allow you to sit comfortably on chairs/couches and walk up and downstairs. The next priority is to fully extend your leg as if one cannot do this; it makes walking very difficult.
The normal amount of knee bend should be roughly 135 degrees, but achieving this goal takes a long time. The other option would be using an assisted-living home. You can also use a nursing facility for assistance with daily tasks such as bathing and toileting.
After you receive knee replacement surgery, it will take time for your range of motion to return. This is partly due to the swelling that can persist up until several months after receiving this procedure. You should expect a combination of movement and static stretches while incorporating these exercises into your routine.
Your rehab program will also include strengthening exercises. The reason for this is that after knee replacement, it’s common to see patients minimize how much they use their new knees due to pain. This can cause weakness in the leg muscles and those around the hip.
Additionally, if a patient’s chronic pain was particularly severe and caused them to reduce activity overall (like walking), we often observe even more widely distributed muscle-weakening of lower body parts.
Regaining Strength & Motion
Most patients who have knee replacement surgery also experience a significant loss of strength. Not to mention, loss of motion after their procedure.
This is why it’s important to begin physical therapy as soon as possible. This will help you regain the strength and range of motion needed for walking, climbing stairs, or getting out of bed.
This is of grave importance for patients who have had knee replacement surgery.
Hands-on soft tissue techniques reduce muscle tightness. Joint mobilization improves your knee’s range of motion. In addition to this, we can also use modalities such as TENS, US, or laser therapy to help you manage pain from surgeries and accelerate recovery time.
After your surgery, it’s important to go through proper physiotherapy treatment so you can begin regaining the strength and range of motion needed for walking. This is typically done after about six weeks when doctors feel you are well enough to handle strenuous activity without putting too much strain on yourself.
The first few months after knee replacement surgery will be difficult. This is because patients need time to recuperate before returning home. They should seek assistance from family members or friends during this period if possible.
It’s also important to adhere strictly to follow all instructions given by medical staff. One must attend physical therapy sessions to speed up recovery times! If the pain begins interfering with daily activities, it may be necessary for a patient to consider taking stronger painkillers.
The total number of physiotherapy appointments your insurance covers varies by provider and insurer. For example, MSP provides 10 free ones to their patients while other providers may cover more or less than that, depending on the plan you choose.
Active rehab is a crucial part of the recovery process after knee replacement surgery because it allows patients to regain their range of motion and strength without putting too much strain on themselves.
Typically, this type of therapy starts six weeks after surgery when doctors feel that patients are well enough to do light activity. It’s important to take things slowly during this period while allowing your body time to heal.
Massage therapy is another helpful treatment that patients can benefit from during the recovery process. It helps improve blood flow to portions of the body that may have become stiff due to inactivity.
This will help speed up your recovery rate while helping you get back on your feet faster than expected. If the pain begins interfering with daily activities, it may be necessary for a patient to consider taking stronger painkillers.
Recovering at Home & Making Progress
It’s also important to note that the recovery process will be much smoother if patients recover at home because it allows them plenty of time for rest without worrying about being around too many people.
This is why most doctors recommend physical therapy sessions and attending massages to help speed up recovery times. If pain ever becomes too concerning to handle, it may be necessary for patients to consider taking stronger painkillers.
Recovering at home is also beneficial because it allows patients plenty of time to rest without worrying about being around people, which can help speed up their recovery rate.
Recommended Exercises After Knee Replacement Surgery
Following knee replacement surgery, it’s important to take part in recommended exercises that will help strengthen the muscles and prevent atrophy.
It is also very beneficial for patients to participate in activities such as walking or swimming because this helps improve blood flow without putting too much strain on their joints.
Here are some of the recommended exercises:
Prone Knee Hangs
Towel Under Heel Knee Straigtening
Straight Leg Raises
For the hip, we include:
- Hip bends
- Hip abductions or clamshells
- Prone hip extensions
These are just some examples of effective exercises. The best way to recover is to determine an individual approach to the issue at hand. Therefore, what works for others may not work for you, and vice versa.
When Can I get Back to My Usual Activities?
Typically, patients can return to their usual activities such as work and exercise after six months. However, you mustn’t push yourself too hard during this period because your body needs time to heal.
This expected recovery time is obviously variable and depends on several factors such as the skills and experience of your surgeon, how well you follow medical advice, and whether or not there were any complications during surgery.
How Long Is Rehab After Knee Replacement?
Physical therapy can last anywhere from four to six weeks, but this depends on the individual.
A typical physical therapist will work with you for about an hour each day. Patients are typically advised to attend three times a week to get their muscles back into shape and improve blood flow without putting too much strain on areas that have just been operated upon.
Furthermore, it’s also important to listen to the advice of your physical therapist. You must attend any recommended massages because they can help improve blood flow and speed up recovery times.
Your Knee Functional Once Again
Now that you understand the intricacies of knee replacement surgery and post-op therapy, you are well on your way to a full recovery.
If you’re interested in effective physiotherapy to ensure your knee is fully mobilized, get in touch with us, and we will happily accommodate your needs.