Total Knee Replacement and recovery has come a long way since I first started working in the field of physical therapy and fitness. The new equipment the surgeons use today to make the procedure in many cases minimally invasive and the decrease in recovery times has made the surgery more tolerable for many.
With all of the advances in the procedure, there are still what is considered the fundamentals when it comes to Knee replacement recovery.
When you arrive home after surgery while you are still in what is considered the acute phase, keeping your home exercise program simple is the key to success and avoiding the increase in pain and swelling that can get out of control when you are trying to do too much when it comes to your physical rehabilitation.
The four pillars of total knee replacement recovery are as follows:
- Simplicity. Yes keeping your home exercise program simple is the key and fully understanding what you are doing, being effective with it and avoiding the more is better syndrome. This is the main responsibility of your physical therapist. Make sure you have a good grasp of the home exercise program before they leave. Having no more than four to six exercises is all anyone really needs to get started.
- Self-Responsibility. Even though your surgeon and physical therapist will get you started in the right direction when it comes to your recovery, It will be up to you to take action and get the results. No one will be responsible for your outcome but you and the sooner you understand that the better off you will be.
- Goal Setting. This is something you and your physical therapist need to hash out on the initial physical therapy visit whether it’s in your home or an outpatient center. Make sure you have an understanding where you ultimately want to end up. Have an understanding of the expected time frame you will be physically recovering in and what is expected to be considered accomplished, range of motion wise, strength wise, and your ability to walk functionally.
- Mental Toughness. In other words, do not expect the recovery to be a pain-free event. There will be good days and there will be rough ones as well. Learn to have the mental capacity to understand that and to be successful you must learn to work through the discomfort to get results. Having to go back to your orthopedic surgeon to have a knee manipulation procedure done because your knee is not moving in an acceptable range of motion is not where you want to be.
So the take-home message here is total Knee Replacement Recovery boils down to four main areas of concern, keeping the exercise program simple enough that is is not overwhelming and you are not spending your entire day a rehabilitation mode, taking self-responsibility for your ultimate outcome through hard work but more importantly consistent, day in and day out training.
Make sure you have set goals toward your ultimate outcome and what it will look like so that both you and your physical therapist know where you are heading but more importantly you are going in the direction you want personally. Break your goals down into small size chunks when it comes to your range of motion.
Knowing for instance that today you can only bend your knee at 60 degrees for instance and your PT and the orthopedic surgeon wants you to be able to bend your knee to 120 degrees in three or four weeks can be daunting, take it one day at a time.
And having the mental toughness to work on the days you do not feel like doing your rehabilitation is vital to your success.
There will be those days you may need to back off a bit due to chronic pain and /or swelling, however, staying the course and being actively engaged each day and resilient enough to overcome all obstacles will be key in your recovery.
If you have any questions regarding your recovery status or have questions on how to prepare for your knee replacement surgery, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or leave a comment below to share with all of us on any other ideas or tips you would like to share.
Richard Haynes PTA, CPT
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