Therapy after knee surgery can be helpful

By Dan Skulavik - Contributing columnist

Total knee replacement (TKR) is a surgical procedure to replace a damaged knee joint with a new artificial/prosthetic implant. Physical therapy is essential before and after surgery in order to minimize complications. Therapy also reduces recovery time and restores knee joint function as quickly as possible.

Musculoskeletal conditions that may require TKR

An impaired knee joint can result in pain and motion restriction for daily activities like sitting, standing, walking and commuting. Some of the conditions that could potentially damage the knee joint include:

• Trauma

• Tumors

• Osteoarthritis

• Rheumatoid arthritis

• Osteonecrosis

Signs and symptoms include moderate to severe knee pain and joint stiffness. Since the knee is a weight bearing joint, pain and discomfort in this region can interfere with the ability to walk and result in gait imbalances.

This can trigger several biomechanical adjustments in the lower body and lead to low back pain, hip pain and ankle pain. Over a period of time, this can cause several limitations in function. It is important to consult with a physician and detect knee joint abnormalities as soon as possible to prevent long-term damage. In the event of a scheduled TKR surgery, physical therapy can speed up healing and rehabilitation of the knee joint before and after surgery.

Before surgery

A baseline measurement of the strength and flexibility is performed. The patient is educated about precautions to take prior to the surgery and positions / movements to avoid after surgery. Objects and furniture may need to be re-arranged to make sure important objects are within reach. A physical therapy facility with a formal “Prehabilitation Program” is most optimal.

After surgery

Several procedures and modalities can be used by the physical therapist to facilitate recovery after surgery. These include: Ultrasound to heal connective tissue (tendons and ligaments), manipulative therapy that includes stretching and massage, resistance training to build muscle strength, and cold compress and heat to relax muscle spasms.

Your physical therapist understands that when it comes to your recovery, every little detail matters. That is the reason your therapist will conduct a detailed initial evaluation. This includes objective measurements of the strength, flexibility, and mobility of the knee joints. Our physical therapists will identify functional limitations of the patient and establish a gap between the prior level of function and intended level of function.

Most individuals are familiar with treatment for mild knee problem, which are generally conservative and may include medications and physical therapy. However, physical therapy can also help before and after TKR surgery. After a brief period of hospitalization, the patient may need several weeks, or potentially months of physical therapy to achieve full recovery.

If you are scheduled for a joint replacement or upcoming surgery a physical therapy “Prehabilitation Program” is something that can go a long way in helping you achieve your goals. Contact us today if you have any questions or would like more information about our Prehab Program.

Dr. Dan Skulavik is the physical therapy at Advanced Physical Therapy in the Food Lion shopping center.

By Dan Skulavik

Contributing columnist

Dr. Dan Skulavik is the physical therapy at Advanced Physical Therapy in the Food Lion shopping center.

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