Knee replacements are hailed as some of the most successful medical surgeries and innovations of the last 100 years. They are also the most commonly performed elective surgery in the United States, with roughly 1,000,000 patients undergoing the procedure every year.
Recovery involves a period of physical therapy.
Many who have had this procedure wonder what physical therapy is and how long it will continue after a knee replacement?
We’ll explore these topics, including what type of physical therapy exercises are involved and how long you can expect to have physical therapy.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a health care service that helps you restore body movement and your physical functionality through non-invasive methods.
For example, a physical therapist may help someone learn to walk again following a stroke or injury. For those who have had a knee replacement, a physical therapist is an important part of the healthcare team. By working closely with your physical therapist, you can regain the range of motion in your leg, helping you return to the activities you once enjoyed.
What to Wear to Physical Therapy
We suggest wearing comfortable clothes that allow access to your knee—so wear either shorts or pants that can be easily rolled up. Be sure to wear non-skid shoes and socks.
Realize that you’ll be doing a lot of moving around, so do NOT wear restrictive clothing.
How Long Do You Need Physical Therapy After a Knee Replacement?
Of course, this will vary from patient to patient, depending upon your individual situation. However, in general, you can expect around 3 to 4 weeks of formal physical therapy from our experts.
Dr. Christian Eccles, our Fellowship-trained Hip and Knee Replacement surgeon, says “Therapy is vital to obtaining the best functional outcome possible after a knee replacement as it can aid in pain control, improve motion, and expedite recovery.”
Our patients typically are able to drive within 2 to 4 weeks, go back to work in 6 to 8 weeks, and golf in 6 to 12 weeks.
Your physical therapy exercises that you learn should be continued on your own for a minimum of two months after your surgery. They may also recommend some additional exercises — such as riding a stationary bicycle — after this period to help keep your knee flexible. This will also help build your muscle tone.
A Physical Therapy Timeline
If you’re having physical therapy in Myrtle Beach or in any of the surrounding Horry County areas we serve, you will have an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific situation. Therefore, there may be some slight variations of this timeline. However, it should provide you with an idea of how long you’ll need physical therapy after a knee replacement.
Immediately After Surgery
Did you know that you’ll start walking and working with a physical therapist hours after your surgery? They will already start exercising your knee and teach you specific exercises that will help strengthen you. This means you’ll be able to recover sooner after your surgery.
One to Two Weeks After Surgery
During this time, physical therapy concentrates on balance, range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. This may include:
- Leg raises
- Ankle pumps
- Practice getting up from a sitting position
- Knee straightening exercises
- Supported knee bends—with the goal of eventually having the knee bend to a 90-degree angle
- Walking—if you need to use a cane or walker, the physical therapist will work with you ensure you’re using them properly
Three to Six Weeks After Your Knee Replacement
As you gain strength, you’ll rely less—or not at all—on assistive devices such as canes.
Often, at this point, more low-impact activities may be introduced into your exercise regimen. In addition to walking, this includes swimming or riding a stationary bike.
Many of the exercises above will continue. Knee bends will concentrate on the goal of bending your knee to 120 degrees.
At this point, many are able to complete basic household chores and slowly get back to daily activities. If you have an office job or a job that doesn’t require heavy lifting or climbing, you may be able to return to work.
Seven to 12 Weeks After Your Knee Replacement
By this time, you should have a wide range of motion in your new knee and have returned to many of the lower-impact activities you loved. It’s important to continue to follow the physical therapy regimen outlined in your plan to ensure that your knee continues to strengthen.
However, at this point you should still avoid several high-impact activities. Therefore, we recommend that you abstain from sports such as:
- High-impact aerobics
- High-intensity cycling
Comprehensive Physical Therapy in Myrtle Beach and Horry County to Help You After Knee Replacements
There are few things more rewarding than seeing patients return to their everyday activities without pain or discomfort. For millions of Americans, knee replacements have helped them regain the life they once enjoyed before knee pain.
Conway Medical Center has become a leader in this life-changing surgery by utilizing the latest advancements in medical technology and pain management. We offer both total and partial knee replacement procedures by leading orthopedic experts who have the extensive expertise and experience to help you.
Want to know more? Just contact us.