Physical Therapy Following A Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery is a very serious procedure that involves completely replacing the knee joint with an artificial one. In the days, weeks, and months following total knee replacement surgery, patients must follow a strict physical therapy schedule in order to gradually return to everyday activities. If you're planning on having knee replacement surgery done in the near future, here are some tips on what to expect from your physical therapist after the procedure.

Phase 1 Physical Therapy

The first few days following your procedure will likely be referred to by your doctors and physical therapists as "phase 1" of your recovery. During these first few days, rest will be your friend; you'll be encouraged to stay off your feet as much as possible--with the exception of your physical therapy appointments. During your physical therapy, you'll likely begin working on slowly beginning to flex your new knee joint. If the hospital is equipped with one, you may also be hooked up to a continuous passive motion machine (CPM) to work on flexing and extending your knee.

Depending on your level of improvement, the next couple days may consist of sit, stand, and change positions without the physical help of your therapist. By the end of phase 1, you should be able to climb a few stairs using crutches and stand/sit with no assistance. 

Phases 2–4 Physical Therapy

Once phase 1 is successfully completed, you'll probably be discharged from the hospital, but your physical therapy won't end there. You'll need to continue regular physical therapy sessions for at least a few more months before your doctor will consider clearing you to resume to regular activities. 

During phase 2 of your recovery, you'll focus specifically on getting comfortable with your new knee. This may involve increasing the number of stairs you can take and the distance you can walk without crutches or any other assistance. During phase 3, you'll work on increasing the function of your new knee by resuming household chores and activities, as well as performing at-home exercises in between sessions.

Finally, during phase 4, you and your therapist will work on strengthening your knee; this may include exercising lightly on a stationary bike and returning to low-impact physical activities, such as golf or swimming. Once you've successfully cleared these phases, you can meet with your doctor and therapist to discuss the possibility of returning to more demanding physical activities.

For more information about what to expect with physical therapy, contact a clinic such as Bronx Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation.