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Post Knee Replacement Surgery Exercises

Learn the knee exercises you should do after you've had knee replacement surgery in this Howcast video about physical therapy for knees.


Knee replacement surgery is a very common surgery now. I started working in the field a number of years ago. In fact, my first job was working on patients that had total knee and total hip replacements and even then, it was coming a long way in terms of the protocol and the technology involved.

Total knee replacement surgery is very common, whether you've been suffering from severe degeneration in your knee and some severe pain or a moderate amount of pain, but it's just not responding to conservative options like physical therapy and medication, so it's time to go in and take care of it. Whether it's an older person or a little bit younger person, the goals in the beginning are very similar.

Right after surgery there's this immediate response of swelling and scar tissue formation, so the first goal whether you're older or younger is to get that knee moving as soon as possible. And when they're not moving the knee to make sure that they're resting their leg in the proper position. So right away, even in the hospital setting, these patients are getting up. They're trying to walk a little bit with a walker or a cane.

And then in the bed or at the seat at the bedside, they're going to be working on knee bending exercises, often very, very painful but very, very necessary. Bending on their own, bending with the physical therapist, etc. Working on active approaches as well as passive, needing assistance from a hand or assistance from the other leg. Then when they're not exercising, like I said, you're going to want to rest the leg in full extension, not letting it bend at all while you're resting.

A lot of times the knee replacement patient loses a little bit of extension. It's not worked on enough in the hospital, and with that scar tissue formation it can really tighten things up and make things harder to improve later on down the line. All right, so it's a lot of range of motion, range of motion, range of motion exercises. And then once that's restored, everything else kind of falls into place.

You're working on walking. You're working on sitting and standing. You're working on stairs. At that point, when you've accomplished those goals, you're almost looking like a regular knee patient. Doing leg exercises in bed, doing leg exercises on the floor, leg exercises and standing, like squats and lunges. It's really unique, because at the very beginning of the program or protocol, you have a lot of stretching to do. It's very painful, but very, very necessary. The outcome is usually very good.

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