Physical Therapy for Total Knee Replacement Patients (Arthroplasty)
The knee joint is a common source of traumatic injuries and wear and tear thanks to it’s role of bearing weight and facilitating movement. Over time, or due to sufficient damage to the structures of the knee, an individual may need to replace the knee via a common and effective procedure called a total knee replacement, otherwise known as arthroplasty. Following an arthroplasty, you will need to work closely with a skilled physical therapist in order to recover your range of motion, strength, and mobility in your knee joint. It is also quite common for orthopedic surgeons to suggest physical therapy in preparation for total knee replacement, as this can help build strength in the knee area and prevent blood clots in some patients, paving the way for recovery after the arthroplasty.
What is a Total Knee Replacement?
A total knee replacement entails resurfacing the three bones of your knee–back of patella, lower femur, and/or upper tibia–with metal or plastic parts to reduce painful friction caused by degraded cartilage, bone, and bone spurs. Patients in need of total knee replacements usually suffer pain and disability as a result of an injury leading to post-traumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis. During the procedure, the damaged surfaces of the upper tibia and lower femur are removed and replaced with metal. In some cases, your surgeon will prepare and replace the back of the patella with plastic. Your surgeon will place a plastic component called a spacer between the new metal parts to allow them to glide against each other during joint movement.
Physical Therapy Treatments Before Your Total Knee Replacement
While you may think you only need to perform physical therapy after surgery, working with a physical therapist prior to and after your total knee replacement can help you speed up your recovery process. The result of your surgery will likely be better if you enter the surgery with a stronger, more flexible knee. It is important to speak with an experienced physical therapist prior to your total knee replacement in order to experience the best possible outcome. Working with a specialized PT or DPT at Evolution before your total knee replacement can ensure you’re choosing a highly qualified therapist who has first-hand experience with arthroplasty patients and makes it easy to transition right into post-surgery rehabilitation.
Physical Therapy Treatments After a Total Knee Replacement
After total knee replacement, your goal will be to get back to your daily activities. Your Evolution physical therapist will help you to alleviate pain and swelling, begin exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee, help you regain your natural walking gait, and assist you in caring for your incision properly. Some of your exercises may include:
- Range of motion exercises
- Balance exercises
- Strength exercises like band work
- Functional exercises, including movements to help you get back to your normal activities
- Therapies such as Blood Flow Restriction therapy
Preventing the Need for a Knee Replacement Surgery
While genetics play an important role in whether or not you may need a knee replacement in the future, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help. Eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, and consistently performing low-impact exercises can help you prevent the need for a total knee replacement. Avoiding high-impact activities and substituting them for low-impact exercises such as swimming may help. As with any activity, make sure to wear the proper footwear and perform exercises with the proper form. If you are worried you may be using improper form while walking, running, or exercising, see a physical therapist sooner rather than later to help you address muscle imbalances, flexibility issues, balance issues, etc.
When to see a Physical Therapist for the management of your Total Knee Replacement
Knee Replacement is a very common procedure, and physical therapy is a fundamental step in your recovery. If you are planning a knee replacement, or you are post-op and your surgeon is referring you to a physical therapist, our experienced team at Evolution can work with you to facilitate the full recovery of your arthroplasty procedure. Evolution Physical Therapy currently has locations in California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Long Island, with specialist PT providers that offer a range of physical therapy services and help to provide you with the treatment, education, and additional support you need on your road to recovery. Reach out to us today, by calling us to set up an appointment at a location near you, or filling out our Request an Appointment form.