I had the privilege last week to be interviewed on a podcast by Phil Faris on Never Too Late Fitness Radio. There we discussed a number of issues that someone confronts prior to and after total knee replacement surgery.
One of the areas we discussed was some of the keys to recovery after having undergone total knee replacement surgery.
Of course, there are many to consider when you are expecting a successful recovery, however, three that stand out in my years of treating knee replacement patients are as follows,
1. Exercise Preparation Prior to Surgery. it is important that your surgeon or physical therapist provides you with both a strengthening and stretching program on the affected leg six to eight weeks out prior to surgery to prepare your muscles and the knee joint itself for the rigors that it will undergo once your surgery is complete.
I have found that when you have completed a pre-surgical exercise program prior to knee replacement surgery, your physical rehabilitation goes smoother and, your results are obtained quicker due to your previous training rather than having done nothing and then expecting your body to respond.
It’s important that both body and mind be trained in what to expect for optimal results.
Not only does your strength come back quicker but, I also find that my patients are seeing quicker increases in their range of motion and an overall decrease in their pain levels.
And mentally they are better prepared for the work ethic that is required to have a successful recovery.
2. Having The Patience to See The Process Through. One of the biggest problems I will encounter with patients is the lack of patience during the physical rehabilitation process.
Many will expect the healing process to come much sooner and some become frustrated when they are not seeing instant results. though many of them will tell me they understand it takes time to heal, they are not showing it in their daily actions.
You cannot expect to see five or ten degrees of knee flexion gained for instance every rehab session. it does not work that way. It will take time which is different for everyone and patience to allow the body to do its work.
Forcing this issue only creates more pain and swelling which results in less knee mobility instead of more.
If you try to rush the process you are only setting yourself up for a tougher road ahead then you already will have anyway.
3. Stay Away from The Game of Comparison. Many problems that can be associated with total knee replacement surgery are patients that have been given instructions on what to do from friends and family along with having heard stories of someone that was progressing in half the time they are or were out doing activities again like golfing or playing tennis in just several weeks after surgery.
A lot of this information can be misleading and tends to get some patients depressed and feeling like they are running behind schedule. Believe me, if you are you will know it from your physical therapist and your orthopedic surgeon.
Their information and guidance is what you want to follow first of all if you listen to them, you will do just fine.
No one goes through this type of rehabilitation quite the same way so avoiding comparing your knee surgery outcome with your neighbors down the street is not conducive to your well-being.
Your job is to concentrate on your recovery and let the rest take care of itself.
Total knee replacement surgery and physical rehabilitation have progressed over the years and with the minimally invasive procedures that are being used today the physical rehabilitation and levels of pain have been reduced if you have prepared properly beforehand.
If you can keep just these three simple rules in mind after you come home from knee surgery, you will find you will be much better off and your physical rehabilitation will go a lot smoother while obtaining the quickest results possible.
Richard Haynes PTA, CPT
Total Joint Fitness LLC