How physical therapy after a total knee replacement can help you recover faster

by Dr. Chi
May 20, 2018

For a total knee replacement to be successful, physical therapy afterward is essential. It helps the knee heal correctly so that you can experience the full life-changing potential that such surgery offers.

The day after surgery, you will meet your physical therapist. Surgeons recommend that you get up and start walking the day after surgery. This is when your physical therapist will enter the picture.

The following is a guide of what to expect your physical therapist to do for you. Remember that things may not always follow this timeline, as people and their recovery processes differ.

Day 1

Your physical therapist shows you how to get up onto your feet. It is vital that you get up, as this prevents the formation of clots which can be fatal.

Once your physical therapist has shown you how to get out of bed, he or she will show you how to stand up straight and walk with the aid of an assistive device. This could be parallel bars, a walker, a pair of crutches, or a cane.

The physical therapist may try a couple of different assistive devices to figure out which one suits you best.

Day 2

Your physical therapist will get you walking again and see if you can use your assistive device to climb up and down a few stairs. He or she will make sure that you can use the toilet on your own.

Exercises for you to do after discharge to strengthen the knee and facilitate the healing process will be demonstrated.

Day 3

If all is going according to plan, you should be getting ready for discharge from the hospital.

Before your physical therapist clears you for discharge, he or she will want to check that you can bend your knee at a 90-degree angle, walk a reasonable distance with minimal dependence on your assistive device, see to your hygiene needs, and do all the exercises you need to continue your road to recovery.

From discharge to week 3

Whether you’re in a rehab facility or at home, your physical therapist will encourage you to spend more time on your feet moving around independently.

You will attend regular appointments to monitor your progress. The physical therapist will continue to show you new exercises and prescribe more prolonged periods of activity for your knee.

Week 4-6

Fewer appointments with the physical therapist will be necessary. The physical therapist checks that you are doing your exercises and that they have the desired effect.

You should be almost entirely back on your feet and performing many everyday activities.

Week 6-12

Additional, more strenuous exercises for the mobility and strength of the knee will be prescribed. By now, you should have been cleared to drive so you can attend your physical therapist appointments independently.

If you’ve done all your exercises, you should be relatively pain-free and ready to resume your pre-operative life fully.



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