person holding their knee due to pain

Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery with Physiotherapy

Knee replacements (also known as a knee arthroplasty) are a common procedure that involves surgically replacing the surfaces of the knee joint that bear weight. The most common reasons for knee replacement surgery are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. The replacement helps to reduce the effects of disability and relieve pain. Replacement surgery for the knee can be performed as a total or partial replacement. Most of these procedures target damaged or disease surfaces of the joint, replacing them with plastic and metal components.

What Causes Deterioration of the Knee Joint?

Inflammation is the most common cause of deterioration in knee joints. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, refers to knee joint inflammation that’s related to excessive wear and tear. Most people will face various problems with their joints as they age, but some conditions can increase the damage.

Surgical procedures, muscle weakness, injuries to the knee joint, and obesity can all increase the load your knee joint must bear. As the load your knees must take increases, so does the amount of wear and tear on your joints. Did you know that losing just 20lbs can reduce the amount of weight on your knees by almost half? Gout, infection, and rheumatoid disease can also cause excessive wear and tear on your knee joints.

Knee Joint Arthritis Symptoms

Pain is the most obvious sign of excessive knee wear and tear. The pain may be sharp, or it may be a dull ache. Most pain is also paired with swelling around the affected joint. Knee joints also don’t wear down equally across the surface of the joint, which can cause a deformity to develop. This can result in a person appearing bow-legged or knock-kneed. Some patients may even experience windswept knees. A lack of mobility, extension, and range of motion are other common symptoms.

Knee Arthritis Diagnosis

A doctor or physiotherapist will examine you to see how well your knee joint moves. They will also ask about pain levels while also looking for deformities and swelling. X-rays are highly effective in determining the exact degree of damage to the knee joint, though an MRI may be used to rule out problems in the soft tissue.

Total Knee Replacement Treatment Procedure

Before a total knee replacement, a doctor may prescribe physiotherapy at our clinic to help get the surrounding muscles and knee joint itself prepared for surgery. Most studies support that when a knee has a good range of movement before surgery, the recovery will have a shorter time frame as well as better results.

Many people who go in for a total knee replacement will start to feel better a few weeks post-op. Your doctor will also prescribe physiotherapy after your recovery to help restore muscle strength, range of motion, and overall function. Post-op physiotherapy will also help to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Strengthen quadriceps & hamstrings
  • Lessen pain
  • Strengthen the calve, hip, and pelvic muscles
  • Recover range of motion
  • Improve the alignment of the knee cap
  • Reduce the chances of re-injury
  • Work to boost balance, agility, and proprioception
  • Improve the person’s mobility techniques and functions

To get the best outcome from a total knee replacement, it is important to have a comprehensive physiotherapy treatment plan in place. Directly after surgery, there will be stiffness, pain, and swelling in the knee joint. In order to preserve the range of motion and restore muscle function, the patient will need to get moving as quickly as possible. There are three main phases in a knee replacement physiotherapy treatment plan.

Recovery Stage Physiotherapy

In the initial days post-op, the treatment we provide will be aimed at managing pain, reducing swelling, and helping to restore the range of motion of the joint. The trained physiotherapist will start by gently working to straighten the joint back to full extension. This will help the patient get on the road to walking normally much quicker. It is typical for a physiotherapist to provide a mobility device such as a walker or cane during this stage. This will help with the walking that is prescribed in the early parts of rehab.

Strength Restoration Stage Physiotherapy

As the swelling begins to resolve, the physiotherapist will begin to become more aggressive in their range of motion and strength treatments. Most of the exercises will target restoring full range of motion and muscle restoration. The physiotherapist will provide hands-on treatment along with assigning an exercise regimen. Most patients can progress to longer walks and even stop using mobility devices during this stage.

Functional Restoration Stage Physiotherapy

After a person has had their strength and range of motion mostly restored, the treatment will target daily tasks. This will help the patient learn to move in a way that allows them to function normally in their regular life. For some, this may include training with balance, special exercises, learning new ways to bend and walk, and more. Every person will have a unique treatment plan that helps them to use their bodies in a way that fits their lifestyle.

Our physiotherapy in East Gwillimbury treatment recognizes the differences in each person’s needs.

How We Can Help

The physiotherapists here at Ultimate Health Clinic know how to best help you restore mobility and strength in your knees. We will provide a unique treatment plan that has been created with you in mind.  To find out more about how we can help you recover from your knee replacement surgery, give us a call at (905)251-0162.

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