Physical therapy begins almost immediately after knee surgery and is critical to the patient’s recovery. Most patients will spend about 12 weeks working with a physical therapist to strengthen the knee, reduce and eliminate pain, and improve flexibility. Although recovery rates are different for every patient, having an estimated timeline can provide goals and motivation to achieve them.
Physical Therapy in the First Few Days Post-Op
Almost as soon as you wake up from surgery, your physical therapist will work with you to get your knee moving. In the first few days post-op, this may involve the use of a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine, standing, and walking short distances with a walker or another device. By the time you’re discharged two to three days later, you should be able to walk up to 25 feet and go up and down stairs with help from crutches or a walker.
3 to 6 Weeks Post-Op
Once home, you’ll have a daily physical therapy regimen to follow. This may involve taking longer walks and eventually reducing your dependence on your walker or crutches. Individual exercises may work to increase your range of motion and strengthen the knee and the muscles around it. Patients who do these exercises daily can typically return to work, drive, and resume most of their daily activities by week 6, if not before.
Weeks 7 to 12 Post-Op
By now you should be walking without the assistance of a walker, cane, or crutches. Your physical therapy exercises will continue to focus on improving strength and flexibility. Exercises may include knee bends, toe and heel raises, step ups, and even cycling on a stationary bike. By week 12, most patients can return to high impact activities like running, playing basketball or football, and cycling. You should have a full range of motion with little to no pain at this point in your physical therapy.
Physical rehabilitation is key to restoring your quality of life after surgeries like a knee replacement. The team at Evergreen Pain Management & Rehabilitation Center in Sheffield Lake, OH, will work with you to ensure your post-op physical therapy is a success. Call them at (440) 240-9111 or visit them online to learn more about how this rehabilitation center will help you.