Getting a new knee may seem straightforward: take old knee out; put new knee in. Done. Sometimes, it’s nice to think about how much easier some aspects of being a human would be if we were like cars. Mechanical in nature. Easily modifiable.
Part not working? Great, replace it, and function better than ever before!
Unfortunately (but, really, extremely “fortunately”), we’re biological in nature. That is, humans (and their parts) are living, breathing, entities that mold, change, grow, and vary based on the demands they’re faced with.
Are the demands placed on the body slow, progressive, purposeful, and goal driven (think Olympic athlete training for their sport)? If yes, the body will slowly, progressively, and purposefully adapt to accomplish the goals it sets out to accomplish. Has the body been dealing with pain, and poor function for weeks, months, years? If yes, the body will likely adopt compensatory mechanisms – like limping for example. Maybe pain and dysfunction have been so high that activity is highly limited – so we sit and rest – we do nothing. Doing nothing = no demand; and no demand = no improvement (and maybe even some loss of abilities we once had).
It’s not all bad of course! Like I said, the body is biological, and it will adapt. It just needs to learn the optimal environment for doing so. That’s where we come in. Physiotherapists are experts at helping you teach your body how to optimally adapt to its imposed demands.
Therefore, getting a knee replacement may replace the “faulty” part, but it’s really just the beginning. This blog will help you understand why physiotherapy is important after a knee replacement (and no, learning optimal loading is not the only reason – but it’s a great place to start!).
Aside: If you want to know all the ins and outs of a Total Knee (Arthroplasty) Replacement surgery – check out this blog on the “Must Know Knowledge!”
8 Reasons Why Physiotherapy Is Important After a Total Knee Replacement:
1. We can assess your current abilities and pain level.
- What is your current range of motion? Is it adequate for specific goals? Will you be able to walk, climb stairs, or sit on a toilet with this range of motion, or do we need to work on it?
- How much pain do you have? Is this normal? Do you need strategies to improve the pain?
- Are you walking safely? Do you need to use a walker or a cane? Are you using a walker or a cane but could be using it less?
- Did your body create any compensations that need to be addressed? Does your hip also hurt? Are your calves weak from walking less for the months prior to surgery?
- The answers to these questions are highly individualized, and we can assess (and continually reassess) your specific status.
2. We can answer your many questions.
- A knee replacement is a BIG surgery, and you probably have some questions. As time goes on, and as hospital funding changes, you will be encouraged to leave the hospital as soon as possible post-operatively – even if you feel unprepared for what’s ahead. That’s where we come in! Ask questions, be curious. Learn.
- Is it safe to walk without your cane?
- When can you drive your car again?
- Did you wake up with a red, hot, swollen and extremely tender calf muscle and wonder what you should do about it? ANSWER: GO DIRECTLY TO THE HOSPITAL – THIS COULD BE A BLOOD CLOT
- Again, questions (and their answers) are individualized – and we can gear the answers to your specific case!
3. We will help you improve the range of motion of your knee.
- Improving your range of motion is a highly integral part of rehabilitation after a knee replacement.
- We will teach you safe exercises to work on improving your range of motion at home (including how often you should work on it, and how to modify it if things are going well (or poorly).
- Often, we will use manual therapy to help you with your range of motion – hands on treatments in the clinic geared at progressing you faster.
4. We will teach you safe exercises to improve your balance.
- Getting a knee replacement is often a painful experience. Falling on this new knee is equally, if not more, painful. Preventing falls will be another important part of your rehab, and balance exercises will be a big part of that prevention.
- Additionally, compensations made over time while waiting for your surgery may have led to poor balancing strategies – we can help you sort these out.
- Furthermore, with improved balance, comes improved walking. Afterall, everytime we take a step, we’re technically on one leg.
5. We will teach you safe exercises to improve your strength.
- Building strength around your new and improved knee will take time, and we can help set you up with early, mid, and late stage strengthening exercises geared at slowly, progressively, improving your strength.
- Are your exercises too easy? This might slow down your progress – so we’ll teach you how to make them harder.
- Are your exercises too hard? This might increase your pain (or create another injury!) – so we’ll modify them to make them more suitable.
6. We will teach you how to address any potential compensations you may have adopted.
- Has your knee been very painful for 1-2 years, and you’ve been limping when you walk? We can help you learn how to stop that limp!
- Did this limp also make your opposite hip get overworked and sore? We can teach you ways to improve this pain as well.
- Did you need a cane to walk (because it was too painful otherwise), but you would really prefer to not use it? We can work on that too!
7. We will monitor your progress over time – and catch things that may go wrong!
- After surgery, you’ll likely see the surgeon around the 2 week mark to have staples removed, then again at the 6 week, and 3 month marks. But what if you have questions in-between? We will see you much more frequently than that, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask questions!
- Are you unsure if you’re making good progress to return to work? We will continuously re-assess you and help you understand your individual situation and what steps you need to take to get back to work.
- We have in-depth training on human anatomy, physiology, healing, and recovery. We’re well-trained to identify if things are going poorly, or if there’s something that requires more immediate attention. That also means we’re well-trained to high-five you when you’re crushing it!
8. We will help you reach your individual, specific goals.
- Is your goal to walk comfortably without a cane and maintain your independence? We can show you the specific exercises and strategies to do this.
- Is your goal to golf next summer? Maybe you need some additional work on hip and core strengthening – we can assist you here too.
- Has improving your knee pain given you a new lease on life and now you want to improve your overall health and wellness, get active, and lose weight? Cool – we’re trained to that too 🙂
There you have it! 8 Reasons Why Physiotherapy is Important After a Knee Replacement. If you have more questions about the surgery itself – check out our comprehensive guide.
Are you planning to undergo (or have already undergone) a total knee replacement? At Strive Physiotherapy and Performance, we are committed to providing an in-depth assessment to ensure we can work together to find the best plan of action for each individual client. Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you reach your goals!
Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance