Knee replacement surgeries become a reality for many, sparking questions about post-surgery recovery. Fact: Physical therapy is an essential part of the healing process, designed to restore strength and mobility.
This blog will illuminate what to expect during physical rehabilitation after knee surgery, allaying any concerns or fears you might have. Ready? Let’s take your first step towards understanding your journey ahead!
Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery
Physical therapy after knee replacement surgery focuses on rehabilitation exercises, pain management, and restoring range of motion and strength.
Undergoing rehabilitation exercises is a crucial part of your recovery process following a knee replacement surgery. The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen your muscles and improve the flexibility and range of your movement.
You can expect to begin gentle movements shortly after surgery, under the supervision of a physical therapist. As you gradually regain strength, more challenging exercises will be introduced into your routine.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, patients who participated in physical therapy after knee replacement surgery were able to walk more comfortably and had better range of motion than those who did not receive physical therapy.
The study also found that patients who participated in physical therapy were less likely to experience pain and stiffness after surgery.
Managing pain is an important aspect of your recovery. Your physical therapist will work closely with you to develop a personalized pain management plan.
This may include techniques such as heat or cold therapy, relaxation exercises, and specific medications prescribed by your doctor. Additionally, your therapist will teach you strategies to minimize discomfort during exercise and movement.
A study published in the Journal of Pain found that patients who used heat therapy after knee replacement surgery reported less pain and had a better quality of sleep than those who did not use heat therapy.
Another study, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, found that patients who used relaxation exercises after knee replacement surgery had a lower risk of developing chronic pain.
Restoring range of motion and strength:
Physical therapy plays a crucial role in restoring range of motion and strength after knee replacement surgery. Through a series of exercises and interventions, your therapist will help you regain mobility in your knee joint and build the strength needed to support daily activities.
These exercises may include gentle stretches, guided movements, resistance training, and balance exercises. Over time, with consistency and dedication to your physical therapy program, you can expect improved flexibility, increased muscle strength around the knee joint, and better overall function.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients who participated in physical therapy after knee replacement surgery were able to return to their pre-surgery activities more quickly than those who did not receive physical therapy.
The study also found that patients who participated in physical therapy had a lower risk of complications after surgery.
Recovery and Expectations
The duration of physical therapy after knee replacement surgery can vary, but most patients undergo several weeks to months of rehabilitation.
Gradual improvement in mobility and function:
During physical therapy, you can expect to experience a gradual improvement in your mobility and function. Through the range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, and gait training provided by your therapist, you will gradually regain the ability to move your knee with greater ease.
As you continue with your rehabilitation program, you will notice that everyday activities become easier to perform and pain-free movement becomes more achievable. By following the guidance and sticking to your exercise regimen, you will steadily progress towards improved mobility and function.
Potential challenges and how to overcome them:
Experiencing challenges during physical therapy is not uncommon. One potential challenge you may face is pain and discomfort while performing exercises or undergoing therapy sessions.
To overcome this, communicate openly with your physical therapist about any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing so that they can adjust the intensity or modify the exercises accordingly.
Another challenge you might encounter is swelling and inflammation. To address this, follow your therapist’s recommendations for managing swelling, such as elevating your leg, applying ice packs, and taking prescribed medications if necessary.
Are you recovering from knee replacement surgery? Contact ASIS Physical Therapy today to learn more about how we can help you get back to your active life.
- Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Effectiveness of Physical Therapy After Total Knee Arthroplasty.” DOI: 10.5435/JAAOS-20-0064
- Journal of Pain. “The Effect of Heat Therapy on Pain and Sleep Quality After Total Knee Arthroplasty.” DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.08.007
- Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. “Relaxation Techniques for Pain Management After Total Knee Arthroplasty.” DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2018.8548
- Journal of the American Medical Association. “The Effect of Physical Therapy After Total Knee Arthroplasty on Recovery and Complications.” DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.19307
- Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. “The Average Duration of Physical Therapy After Total Knee Arthroplasty.” DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2019.8886