Chronic and severe knee pain is a leading cause of musculoskeletal disability in the United States, and this is usually attributed to osteoarthritis. This is the most common type of arthritis – it is also called wear-and-tear arthritis or bone-on-bone arthritis – and it is due to the wearing-down of the protective and cushiony cartilage in the knee.
If you have knee arthritis, your orthopedic doctor will likely recommend that you consider having a knee replacement. Rest assured that hundreds of thousands of Americans have this surgery every year, because it is so successful at getting people back to an active and pain-free lifestyle.
After having knee replacement surgery, physical therapy enables the recovery process to be easy and smooth. Physical therapy consists of a variety of exercises and treatments that will keep you on track to regaining your mobility and eliminating knee pain.
Let’s talk about how physical therapy can help you after knee replacement surgery, and where you can go for world-class physical therapy that will help you get back to enjoying life again.
Benefit #1: Physical Therapy Helps to Reduce Swelling
It may be surprising how quickly physical therapy begins after knee surgery: Your physical therapist will start to implement their post-op physical therapy program on the very day of your surgery. A main reason why this is done is to reduce postoperative swelling.
Your physical therapist will teach you how to position your new knee in some degree of flexion (30°-90°). They will also advise you to keep your knee flexed (bent) while sitting or lying down for the first 7 days to help prevent swelling in the knee.
Benefit #2: It Prevents Scar Tissue Buildup
Scar tissue can naturally build up inside the knee after surgery or an injury. This creates tightness, stiffness, and pain in the knee.
Post-op physical therapy therefore involves scar mobilization, which helps to break up and prevent scarring inside your knee. This will include passive exercises (where the therapist does the work and moves your knee), active exercises (where you move the knee with your own leg strength), and active assisted exercises. These will help you to regain the knee’s range of motion, improve knee flexibility, and help prevent scar tissue buildup in the knee.
Benefit #3: Physical Therapy Helps to Increase Knee Strength
During the first few days after the surgery, the new knee is very weak and can barely hold any weight. The physical therapist may use neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to strengthen the quadriceps muscles (in the front of the upper leg) and improve performance.
They will also design, implement, and teach strength training and exercise programs within the first 7 days after knee surgery to improve knee function and strength. Strengthening exercises are focused on strengthening the muscles which support the knee, as this will eventually take the pressure off of the knee joint.
Benefit #4: Physical Therapy Restores Knee Mobility
A physical therapy exercise program can help you to restore the functional mobility of your knee, including regaining the range of motion, so that you can return to your activities. The physical therapy program may also include motor function training to improve your balance and to help you regain your normal gait.
Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery
Our team here at H2 Health offers comprehensive rehab services that are customized for each patient after having knee replacement surgery. Our highly qualified and experienced physical therapists also work around physical limitations, budget constraints, and time schedules to create an outpatient program that delivers the best possible outcome for you.