Knee Replacement: Understanding the Importance of Physical Therapy in Your Recovery Process

If you are having knee replacement surgery, your physical therapist will be an important part of your medical team, both before and after surgery. Knowing what to expect pre-surgery and post-surgery can ease your mind and help you understand the importance of working with your physical therapist to achieve the best possible outcome.

Before surgery

Even a few visits to your physical therapist before your surgery can be a great help in the recovery process. Learning exercises to improve the strength of your knee can be helpful in getting your knee in the best shape possible for your surgery. Your physical therapist will also work with you on learning the proper way to move with an assistive device, such as a walker or cane, following surgery.

Following surgery

Expect to begin seeing your physical therapist soon after your procedure is completed. In the initial days following surgery, your physical therapist will guide you in the proper use of ice, elevation, and the use of compression stockings to aid you in your recovery. You will learn how to safely move about with your assistive device, get from a seated to standing position with ease, and the easiest way to get in and out of a car.

Range of motion and strengthening exercises

In the first week following knee surgery, swelling and pain are the most common main complaints. This can make moving your knee difficult, and restoring range of motion and strength to the affected joint is crucial in the healing of your knee. Your physical therapy program will include exercises to restore range of motion and strength to the knee as soon as possible, so you can perform your normal activities and work duties.

Balance activities

Once you can bear weight on your knee without discomfort, your physical therapy program will be expanded to include balance and gait training activities. Uneven surfaces, such as lawns or other types of outdoor terrain may be uncomfortable when you are in the recovery process and can increase your risk of falls. Activities performed on a balance board as part of your exercise program will help improve your agility and safety when trying to move on uneven surfaces.

Strengthening the knee is vital to the recovery process before and after you have a knee replacement. Attending physical therapy and working with your therapist to develop an exercise plan, is an essential part of the knee replacement protocol your physician will establish. Being aware of the importance of your participation in this process will help you achieve the best results in the healing process. For more information, talk to a local physical therapist near you for more information.