Scheduled for knee replacement surgery? There are some things you need to know about postoperative knee rehab. In most instances, once you’ve had your surgery, it’ll be extremely important to get up and moving around as soon as possible.
The sooner you start exercising your knee, the better and faster it will heal.
Rehab after knee replacement surgery needs to happen in a professional physical therapy office. At Clear Choice Physical Therapy, we offer knee rehab therapy, as well as treatments for many other types of ailments and issues.
Knee rehab will take around 12 weeks, so be prepared to dedicate yourself to a strict regime of exercise and stretching. It’ll be crucial to stick to it until the 12 weeks are over. Keep reading to find out what you can expect.
Post-Operation to Week One
You’ll begin moving around on your knee within the first 24 hours after your operation. You’ll likely use a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine while at the hospital. It’ll keep your knee moving and prevent the buildup of scar tissue.
You’ll be discharged within two to three days. You’ll then start working with a physical therapist right away. During these five to eight days, you’ll need help doing a lot of basic things, such as bathing, using the bathroom, and getting dressed.
Weeks Two through Five
By the end of week two, you should be able to do basic tasks with greater ease. Your knee will be feeling better and the swelling will have subsided. However, you should still expect stiffness and soreness to persist for several more weeks. The goal of this phase is to work on increasing range of motion and improving flexibility.
Your physical therapist (PT) will be working with you the entire time, having you go on regular walks to retrain your gait and putting your knee through simple exercises, such as:
- Quad sets (tightening your thigh muscles)
- Leg raises
- Ankle pumps
- Glute squeezes (contracting your buttocks)
- Cycling on a stationary bike
- Heel and toe raises
- Hip abductions (like side-kicks)
Weeks Six through Eleven
During this phase, you’ll increase your ability to do things on your own and return to participating in conservative daily activities. The goal is to progress to more advanced exercises so that you can become comfortable with what your new knee can do.
This is an important phase. It allows you to “test” your agility in a controlled environment. This prepares you to maneuver safely during life’s unexpected moments – such as your dog taking off after a cat while on a walk, or a car racing around a corner toward you. It also helps you gain the confidence to rejoin the more dynamic activities you enjoy, be they dancing, tennis, boating or something else.
Your physical therapist will be there to help you manage challenges and concerns – coaching you through expected discomforted while looking for and addressing red flags. Expect to see a progression in your therapy routine which should begin to include exercises such as:
- Leg press progressions
- Stability exercises
- Functional movements, like squats and lunges
- Agilities, like cross-overs and obstacles
Weeks Twelve through Thirteen
These two weeks are the final stages of knee rehab! Your PT will have been with you every step of the way. The goal of this final phase will be to work on building strength and endurance.
While your formal rehab may conclude, the body will continue its healing process. Everyone is different, but it often takes 8-12 months for the soft tissue to completely “remodel” and the scar tissue to completely mature. In order to solidify the success of your surgery, your physical therapist will transition you to a personal exercise routine that you can continue on your own.