Why is a knee replacement needed?
Severe joint pain during walking, standing, and stair climbing is the biggest indication for knee replacement, typically caused by osteoarthritis. It can be caused by a number of other reasons including: genetics, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, or excessive weight.
What is involved in the surgery?
Your surgeon should explain to you specifically what should be expected. If you have any questions about the surgery itself, you should direct these to your surgeon. Generally, the surgery replaces your arthritic bone on either side of the joint with one metal and one polyethylene components. Most people will also have a polyethylene component added to the undersurface of the kneecap. Sometimes only one component will be necessary, depending on the condition of your joint. After the surgery, you will have an incision about 4-6 inches long on the front of your knee. Most people stay in the hospital 4-5 days after the surgery. At most hospitals, your therapist will fit you with a machine called a “CPM” to keep your knee moving a few hours a day. While you are in the hospital, you will see a therapist who will give you exercises and help you to walk.
What is involved in the outpatient therapy?
Outpatient therapy after a knee replacement involves a lot of stretching and strengthening. Aquatic Therapy can begin as soon as there is a dry scar (usually 7 – 10 days post-op) and will speed recovery by gradually increasing weight bearing exercise intensity. Your therapist will work on getting you to straighten the knee all the way – “extension” and bending it as much as possible – “flexion.” Strengthening is also a big component of therapy. Your therapist will give you many exercises to strengthen both your hip, knee, and ankle muscles. This will help to make walking more normal and allow you to get back to your normal activities as quickly as possible. Lastly, your therapist will do some manual techniques to help with swelling and scar healing. Your therapy session may end with ice to reduce any soreness the next day.