Physical therapy after knee replacement

Knee replacement surgery isn’t something people enter into lightly, but if enough damage has been done to their knee over the years, there may be few other viable options.  We won’t lie:  the road to recovery after a joint replacement is a long one, but a few months of discomfort and physical therapy is still better than added years of knee pain or gradual debilitation.


A Timeline Of Recovery Following A Knee Replacement Surgery

Week 1: In the first few days following the surgery, you’ll be on heavy-duty painkillers and other medications.  You’ll have very little mobility, and early physical therapy will be focused around simply moving the knee.

You’ll likely be put in a Continuous Passive Movement (CPM) machine, which does what it sounds like.  It’s a mechanical device that constantly moves the joint around to prevent stiffening or scar tissue buildup.

Weeks 2-3:  You’ll be discharged around the time you can walk short distances on your own, and can move your knee at least in 90 degree angles. Usage of prescription pain medication may continue for several more weeks.

Otherwise, the important part is preventing excess strain on the knee.  You should especially avoid stairs, heavy lifting, or more than simple walking and other rehabilitative exercises.

Weeks 4-6:   After a month to six weeks, you’ll have regained a more normal ability to walk. Long walks or stairs may still be painful, but this is the point you’ll be able to start talking about resuming your normal life: Work, driving, etc.

However, this determination needs to be made with the help of your doctors:  Do not resume normal activity until you’ve been cleared.

Weeks 7-onwards:  From here, it’s about training and strengthening your leg.  Your physical trainer will modify your exercises to focus on your own healing, and the progress from here will be very personalized, depending on your body and healing abilities.

Either way, after about two months, you should be mostly recovered from your knee replacement, and well on your way to regaining a normal life!

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