Recovering From Knee Replacement Surgery

You are scheduled for a total knee surgery to replace that arthritic joint. You are looking forward to walking without pain again, but first, you'll need to go through a rigorous recovery period to regain flexibility and strength in your knee. Here is what to expect after the surgery as you start down the path of total knee joint recovery.

What Happens After the Surgery

Once you're back in your hospital room after the surgery, you'll have a chance to rest. But the nurses and physical therapist will soon be knocking at your door to get you out of bed. Getting your body moving soon after surgery improves circulation and healing. For the next day or two, you'll practice getting in and out of the bed and chair, and walking with crutches.

Prior to going home, you'll work with the physical therapist on some more demanding moves such as going up and down stairs and inclines. Once your doctor is satisfied that the knee is healing well and you're mobile, you'll be released from the hospital to finish your recovery at home.

Successful Recovery Depends on Your Physical Therapy Program

You'll have regular appointments with physical therapy to get your knee back into shape. The arthritis damaged bone and tendons, as well as the surgery, may have disrupted some of the knee muscles. As the bones and soft tissues in your knee heal, the physical therapist will be focused on two phases of your recovery: flexibility in the knee joint and strengthening of the muscles.

Knee Joint Range of Motion

Your knee muscles will be stiff, so a therapist, such as at Peak Physical Therapy of Brooklyn, will work with them to slowly stretch them out to their normal length. Ligaments and tendons in your knee allow it to bend and rotate while you move. The key to regaining flexibility is to work on these tissues slowly, getting them used to stretching again, but within limits. You'll want to follow your therapist's instructions so as not to put too much stress on your knee while you exercise. You could damage some of the structures by overdoing it and set your recovery back days or weeks.

Knee Muscle Strengthening

Once your knee can smoothly move through its normal range of motion, the physical therapist will work with you to strengthen the muscles in your knee. Not only do these muscles add power to your knee, they control its motion. While your knee joint is now flexible, the muscles prevent it from bending or twisting too far. A blow to your knee on either side can dislocate the artificial joint components and rupture the ligaments if the muscles aren't strong enough to hold the knee in place. Walking on inclines, bicycling and resistance training will be added to your physical therapy program to strengthen the muscles in your knee.

The success of your recovery from total knee surgery is due in large part to your focus on the physical therapy program. Follow your doctor's and therapist's instructions precisely and don't overdo it.