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Physical Therapy after Knee Joint Replacement

Feb 23, 2015

Knee joint replacement is a major surgery and returning to your daily activities will take some time. Following the surgery, you will have to avoid putting additional stress on your knee until it heals properly. After the knee heals, you’ll have to work with it to gain full range of motion once again. This is where physical therapy comes into play.

Adapting to life with a knee that is recovering from knee replacement surgery can be challenging. Rehabilitation plays a large role in helping you participate in your normal activities and allowing your knee to move the way it did before injury. It’s important to take it slow and never continue a movement that causes you pain. It will also improve the health of your joint and the success of the surgery for years to come.

Your rehabilitation will start soon after surgery and will likely last around 12 weeks. While doctors don’t want you to rush recovery, you are encouraged to start using your artificial knee slightly, with the help of a therapist, right away.

Your physical therapist will assign you repetitive exercises that will strengthen the muscles around your knee joint and help you regain the flexibility needed to move the joint properly. They will also help you adjust to minimal use of your knee during recovery and show you how to get around using an aid like a cane or crutches.

Physical Therapy Exercises

Below are a few examples of exercises that you’ll perform during rehab. Your physical therapist will monitor your activity and increase the difficulty of your exercises as you continue to become stronger and your knee replacement is working properly.

Ankle Pumps

Increasing ankle flexibility helps you strengthen your leg muscles and provides support to your hips.

First, lie on your back with your toes pointed upward. Roll up a towel and place it beneath your ankle on your operated leg. Using your calf muscles, bend your ankle so that your toes are pointing towards your shin and hold for five seconds. Then, bend your ankle so that your toes are pointing away from your shin and hold for five seconds. Perform ten repetitions, three times a day.

Quad Exercises

Strengthening the muscles in your quadriceps is crucial when rehabilitating a knee joint replacement, but you need to make sure not to strain your replacement in the process. These exercises allow you to work your quad muscles while your hip and knee are at rest.

Start off by lying flat on your back on a soft mat or a bed. With your legs extended, tighten the quad muscle in one leg and hold for five seconds. Complete ten repetitions, three times per day on both legs.

It’s crucial that you follow your physical therapist’s instructions exactly and stop any exercise if you experience pain.

If you’re considering knee replacement surgery, download our e-book, How to Choose an Orthopaedic Surgeon. This educational guide will help you choose a reputable surgeon you can trust.