Total knee replacement is an operation used to relieve pain and disability due to knee joint damage. Most patients undergo a knee replacement due to changes related to advanced age known as osteoarthritis. However, some individuals may have one due to knee fractures or rheumatologic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis which have weakened their knee joint/s over time.
The first phase of your recovery will be focused on managing your pain and early mobilization to prevent excessive knee stiffness developing and reduce any chances of DVT and infection. Circle’s expert physiotherapists will help you to safely transfer out of bed on the day of your surgery or the morning after surgery. You will be provided with a walking frame or elbow crutches to start to weight bear and walk. With help from your physiotherapist, you will be taught how to safely ascend and descend stairs before your discharge from hospital, and supervised while you practice. For a period of time after your knee replacement, there will be certain activities and movements that you will be unable to perform with your knee. Your physiotherapists will educate you on how best to avoid these movements and activities and provide some alternatives so you can return to independence as quickly as possible.
The second phase of your recovery will focus on enabling you to be able to walk with a more normal gait pattern and wean off the walking frame or elbow crutches to using sticks. Our physiotherapists will design a specific rehabilitation regime to help you regain strength and balance in your operated leg. At this stage many of the exercises will be non-weight bearing and will target the quadriceps muscles (which help to extend and stabilize your knee when walking or climbing stairs/ getting out of a seat) and the hip muscles (which help to stabilize your hip and pelvis when walking and standing on one leg).
The third phase will begin when you have recovered from any acute pain associated with the surgery and when you have recovered enough strength and balance in your operated leg to commence more vigorous, weight bearing exercises. The exercises our physiotherapists prescribe during this phase will typically take into consideration your normal activity levels and sports or hobbies and will aim to increase functional strength. Examples of exercises that may be prescribed are step-ups to increase your strength and balance when climbing stairs, and shallow squats to enhance your ability to go from sitting to standing.