March 7, 2016
Recovery from knee replacement surgery: what to focus on first.
This particular article is for anyone who has recently had a total knee replacement.
When you’re discharged from the hospital after a surgery the doctors and nurses generally load you up with lots of instructions and lots of paperwork and send you on your way.
Don’t feel bad if you feel overwhelmed and a little confused by the time you get home. That amount of information in a very short period of time frequently leaves people in the dark about what is supposed to happen when they get home.
For anyone who has recently had a knee replacement surgery, from a physical therapy standpoint, there are only two things you really need to be concerned about. And there are three things that you really need to focus on doing.
Your home health nurse can especially help you with the two things you need to be concerned about. They are number one, preventing and infection, and number two, preventing a blood clot or DVT.
the three things you need to focus on doing after a knee replacement surgery are bending the leg, straightening the leg, and elevating the leg to manage your swelling.
It’s really that simple from a physical therapy standpoint. This is because the only thing that really does not return without a lot of effort after a knee replacement surgery is your range of motion.
Your ability to walk will return on its own. The ability to lift your leg will return on its own. The ability to get up and down from a chair, or get in and out of the bed, will return on their own.
But what makes all of these activities a lot easier to do, is having good range of motion in the surgical knee.
This is just as important for those who had their knee replacement some time ago. If you’re still not able to bend your knee or straighten your knee it’s a lot more difficult to move around.
So what should you be focusing on?
For knee flexion really focus on any activity that allows you to stretch the knee into flexion. This could be the heel slide. Or it could be something as aggressive as standing up and sitting down from a chair with your knees bent. If you try to do this last movement please make sure that you’re not trying to put all your weight on your leg.
In order to straighten your leg, the exercise you want to focus on is the hamstring stretch or the calf stretch. Both of these movements can be done either in sitting or lying down on the bed. Or with the calf stretch you can do that when you’re standing up. I have written a previous blog post about that with a photo.
So just remember for those of you who have recently gotten out of the hospital and are a little confused with what to do next, the emphasis should really be on preventing infection as well as blood clots or DVD.
And also you should be emphasizing bending your leg, straightening your leg, and elevating your leg.
If you number that mild that’s really only five things that you really need to think about and focus on in order to have good recovery from a total knee replacement.