Are you planning on getting a knee replacement? While medical advancement has made it a very safe and effective procedure for osteoarthritis, treatment doesn’t begin or end in the hospital. You’ll need to take steps before and after surgery to ensure the best knee replacement recovery outcomes.
First, you’ll need to prepare your home. Whether you’ve had a total knee replacement (TKR) or partial (PKR), getting around for the first couple of weeks after surgery might be difficult. Ideally, you should have chairs with armrests to help you get in and out of them. You should also ask someone to move your furniture to give you clear, wide walking paths that accommodate you and the assistive walking device your surgeon will prescribe.
Yes, your surgeon will likely ask you to exercise before your surgery. Put simply, the stronger your knee muscles are, the better support your recovering knee will have after the procedure. One study found that combining pre- and post-op workouts (compared to post-op alone) improved post-operative function and muscle strength. Some studies also found that pre-op exercise programs can significantly reduce your need for inpatient rehabilitation.
Don’t worry, though. Considering that knee replacements are only recommended for severe cases of osteoarthritis, you won’t need to do any lunges or sumo squats. Your exercise plan will instead consist of the following:
- Straight Leg Raises
- Sideways Leg Raises
- And Sitting Knee Flexions and Extensions
All of these are done either lying on the floor or sitting in a chair to reduce pressure on the damaged joint.
You may also need to strengthen your upper body through banded rows and push-ups, as this will make it easier to get around on your cane or crutches after surgery.
After knee replacement
Along with a pre-op exercise routine, you’ll need to have a post-op one. During the first week of your recovery, you’ll start doing mobility and gait corrective exercises. These will likely include some exercises from your pre-op routine, just with increased intensity. Depending on your progress, you may need to keep these up for a few weeks.
Your surgeon will also likely ask you to walk at least 50 metres a day from the moment you’re discharged. In fact, you might not be discharged until you can walk this distance yourself with the help of a walking aid. By week 3, you should be able to walk for 10 minutes at a time.
By weeks 7-11, your physio may clear you for low-impact exercises like swimming and cycling. These will work your leg muscles and get the blood flowing through the healing joint without stressing it too much. After week 12, you may be able to get back into higher-impact sports like tennis.
See more exercises for knee strength and pain relief: Top 6 Exercises for Knee Pain
GenuTrain S Pro
To make exercising easier on your knee, you should also opt for a brace. Our GenuTrain S Pro, for example, can help:
- Manage swelling, as its medical-grade compression knit reduces the formation of edemas (your body’s inflammatory agents).
- Boost blood flow because the knit squeezes blood out of congested veins and into the deep veins that carry it to the heart. With less deoxygenated blood blocking the way, your body can move in more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood.
- Activate your muscles. This benefit might not seem too important, but your muscles are your joint’s primary line of support. As pain and swelling interrupt nerve signals, your muscles can’t support your joint properly. You may also not have the best proprioception (i.e., ‘awareness’ of joint movement and placement), which can affect how you walk. So, a proprioceptive brace like this can significantly help your muscular control, balance, and mobility.
- Externally support your joint through anatomically shaped stays and adjustable straps, taking some of the load off your healing tissues.
- And last but not least, relieve pain. It does so by supporting your knee and massaging it via a special silicon pad. As you move, the pad soothes pain and tension in your muscles.
Ice and elevation
You may get a fair bit of swelling after the procedure. While it’s perfectly normal, swelling can take up space in the knee joint and slow the rate at which your body can get nutrients and oxygen in and waste out.
Along with wearing a compression brace when you’re up and about, elevate your foot above heart level when you’re resting and ice your knee for 15 minutes a few times a day. These steps will help reduce inflammation.
Attend all your checkups and physiotherapy appointments
Your doctor will need to monitor your recovery process. Because even if everything ‘feels’ like it’s going fine, it’s always best to get a specialist confirmation. Additionally, physiotherapy is an absolutely crucial rehab step. Osteoarthritis and surgery will take a lot out of your knee joint, so getting a specialist’s help in retraining the knee to move and hold your weight is crucial.
After your surgery, give your body the necessary vitamins and nutrients it needs to recover. The chief among these is vitamin D, which studies show is crucial for muscle strength and bone health. Your surgeon may also ask you to supplement iron or eat more iron-rich foods for a couple of weeks after surgery to replenish the red blood cells that were lost. Foods that are high in these nutrients include:
- Leafy greens
- Brown rice
- Red meat (especially liver)
Sleep releases the growth hormone, which is responsible for the growth and repair of all tissues in your body. As osteoarthritis can cause a lot of bone-on-bone contact in later stages, repairing that tissue is key. Additionally, proper sleep will be good for your healing skin.
TO SUM UP
Both osteoarthritis and knee replacement surgery can take a lot out of your knee joint. Hence, you’ll need to take some extra care. Prepping your home, exercising, bracing, reducing swelling, and eating and sleeping right are all crucial steps in making your knee replacement recovery as smooth as possible.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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