Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Are you considering having a total knee replacement (TKR) surgery? Have you gotten to the point where you are fed up with your knee pain? Have standing activities like going for a walk or walking up and down your stairs become excruciating?
For about 90% of people, total knee replacement surgery can help dramatically reduce their pain, and most of them return to the activities they enjoy after completing their rehab. Sounds great, right? But like most major surgeries, a portion of people will experience complications.
The most common complication following knee replacement surgery is referred to as “stiff knee syndrome” (or, in medical terms, “arthrofibrosis”).
Following surgery, scar tissue can build around the knee. People who experience this condition end up with a permanent loss of either bending or straightening their surgical knee, associated with long-term pain.
The good news about "stiff knee syndrome" is this condition can be avoidable.
While there are factors outside your control, such as your body’s tendency to lay down excess scar tissue, there is one significant factor that you can control is the condition of your knee heading into surgery.
Most people do not tend to think about what they should be doing before their knee replacement surgery. Instead, they’re focused on what will happen during and after surgery, which is understandable.
If you’re planning on having a total knee joint replacement surgery within the next two months, now is the ideal time for you to start getting your knee joint ready for a speedy recovery!
5 Essential Tips to Help Speed Up Your Recovery At Home Following Knee Replacement Surgery:
1. Improve your knee flexibility as much as possible
One of the hardest things to accomplish after knee replacement surgery is getting your knee to move fully with bending and straightening. The more flexibility (range of motion) you have before surgery, the easier it will be to gain the necessary knee motion required following your procedure to get you back walking and doing your household tasks.
2. Increase your quadriceps muscle or thigh strength
Your “quad muscles" are the muscles located on the top of your thigh that take a toll during knee replacement surgery. Working on knee exercises for strengthening the quad muscles and surrounding leg muscles before heading into total knee replacement surgery, you may have a much easier time getting the leg muscles stronger following surgery.
3. Keep Active
If walking is too painful before surgery, consider exercising in a pool or riding a stationary bike. Ideally, you want as much strength and flexibility in your knees as possible during your post-operative phase, which may help make your recovery quicker and less painful. Also, depending on your condition and abilities, considering using a wheeled walker or single point cane might be useful to help unload the stress on your bad knee. Ensuring your walker or cane is the proper fit and safest option for your situation is essential, so speaking with a physical therapist may benefit you.
4. Modify Your Home or Living Environment
If you are considering knee replacement surgery, in preparation, consider setting your home environment up for success and ease of task completion. Try to have your bed or place of sleeping located where there is open space with minimal stair negotiations to access the main areas of your home (bathroom, kitchen, etc.). Try to remove hazards like loose rugs or scattered items and ensure you have access to proper lighting. For walking, consider having a two-wheeled walker or rollator walker readily available, along with having access to a single point cane once it is appropriate for use.
A few other household items you might want to consider for caring for yourself following your knee surgery: raised toilet seat for getting up from easier off the toilet, sock caddy for assisting in putting on socks or stockings, a long-handled sponge for helping you safely bathe hard to reach areas, reacher for helping with picking up items off of the floor or in cupboards, shower chair with handles or tub bench chair for ease of taking a shower.
5. Consider Physical Therapy Before Your Total Knee Replacement Surgery
A study published by the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in 2014 found a 29% reduction in post-operative costs for those who participated in “pre-hab” or a physical therapy-based exercise program before undergoing a total knee replacement surgery. These same people had a significantly shorter length of stay in the hospital, and fewer of them needed to go to a nursing home.
Physical therapy can also be a highly useful option for individuals who have been told by a medical provider that you are "not a good candidate" for surgery or if you are someone who wants to avoid having surgery altogether. Also, if you Are looking for ways to manage your knee arthritis or discomfort, check out our blog post 3 Effective Ways To Ease Hip Or Knee Arthritis Pain Without Undergoing Surgery...
By undergoing a total knee replacement surgery, you are electing to have major surgery. As an in-home physical therapy and occupational therapy provider, we help individuals like you or your loved one aged 65+ improve your mobility to keep you active and living at the most optimal level.
You can give us a phone call as your mobile, in-home physical therapy and occupational therapy provider in Waukesha. We provide our services physical therapy at home throughout the Greater Milwaukee area to help you get this problem solved.
If you are looking for knee exercises or wondering how to get rid of your knee pain and live in Waukesha, Brookfield, New Berlin, Pewaukee, Hartland, Oconomowoc, Milwaukee, Greenfield, Franklin, Oak Creek, or in surrounding Greater Milwaukee communities, give us a quick phone call to schedule your physical therapy appointment or complete this quick form to set up your FREE 20-minute call ($75 value) with an in-home PT to discuss your current situation!
Talk more soon!!