A knee replacement procedure can decrease pain and greatly increase function in your knee, but you won’t be able to restore strength and mobility in your knee simply by laying in bed and letting healing run its course. If you want to increase mobility and decrease stiffness in your new artificial knee, you need to be proactive in your rehabilitation approach. In today’s blog, we share some tips for how you can work to increase mobility in your new artificial knee.
Increasing Flexibility In Your New Knee
Odds are the following tips will fall in line with the recommendations that you receive from your treating physician, but just remember that these are general guidelines. The personalized advice from your treating surgeon should always take precedence over generalized advice that you find online. With that said, here’s a look at some ways to improve flexibility in your newly replaced new:
- Early Movement – As we mentioned in the introduction, don’t expect to just lay in bed for weeks after your surgery. Standing up and moving, even if it is just in very short intervals, will help to increase blood flow to the knee and aid in the healing process. It will also help to start strengthening structures that were addressed or cut during the surgical procedure. It’s certainly possible that you’ll be up and moving the same day as surgery, so mentally prepare to be upright. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it is an important step in restoring normal function in the knee joint.
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is the single most important aspect of your recovery in terms of helping to restore function to your knee. Careful movements and exercises will target all of the important muscles and tissues in your knee, and these motions will help your knee become comfortable with more advanced movements. Working with a professional can help ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly and getting the most benefit from each technique, so get comfortable working with and communicating with your physical therapist, because you’ll be working with them for a few months as you recover.
- Consistency – To get the most out of your physical therapy sessions, you need to do them on a consistent basis. If you are only meeting with your physical therapist once a week, you’re not going to see much improvement between sessions. You also need to be doing your home-based exercises and stretching techniques on your own between sessions. You’ll be expected to do your physical therapy exercises every single day during the early stages of your recovery, and your PT may even recommend that you perform them multiple times a day. You’re going to be physically limited while you recover, so you should have plenty of time to do your exercises each day. And while you may not always look forward to doing your exercises, know that doing them consistently will be the biggest factor in how big of a functional recovery you make following your operation.
- Elevation – Elevating your knee and your leg can help to control postoperative swelling that may be limiting mobility in your knee. Swelling should eventually subside as you get further away from your surgery date, but sometimes swelling develops following an intense physical therapy session, so get in the habit of elevating the area and potentially using a cold pack to help reduce inflammation and swelling after PT to help maintain mobility in the area.
- Gradual Intensity Increases – If you want to continue gaining more mobility and flexibility in your knee over time, you need to push yourself harder during your recovery. You’ll need to adjust your rehab exercises so that you’re always pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. If exercises are too easy, you won’t gain anything from the movement. Your physical therapist should be adjusting your routine to continue to challenge you, but if you’re still doing the same exercises that you were at the beginning of your recovery, know that you may be selling yourself short. Don’t alter your exercise routine without talking to your physical therapist or surgeon first, but let them know that you believe that your exercises aren’t challenging you enough.
If you do all of these things and trust your procedure to a skilled knee replacement surgeon like Dr. Botero, we are confident that you will be able to regain a lot of mobility in your new knee. For more information, or for help with a different knee or hip issue, reach out to Dr. Botero’s office today at (865) 558-4444.