Knee surgery patients have a long road to recovery ahead of them. Whether you are getting a total knee replacement or fixing your torn meniscus, the healing process takes time. Your knee is one of the most important joints in your body. The inability to bend or use your knees can make simple tasks such as walking and sitting feel nearly impossible. Knee surgeries are sometimes necessary to ensure that the joint is working properly and able to support your body. In order to recover properly, knee surgery patients must attend physical therapy. But how early after surgery do you start your recovery process?
Well, there is more than one answer to that, and it is different for every patient. But all patients will have a short-term recovery process and a long-term recovery process.
What helps knee surgery patients recover?
A study was conducted on knee surgery patients who required a total knee replacement. Patients were monitored on their recovery speed concluding that “An increase in muscle size and strength and an improvement in levels of mobility can occur after 12 weeks of resistance exercise in older individuals 1 to 4 years after total knee arthroplasty (TKA).” (Source: Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research).
In the study, increases in quadriceps muscle volume and knee extension strength followed 12 weeks of eccentric exercise. There were also improvements in the four mobility tests. Similar improvements were noted in the traditional exercise group in two mobility tests. When the exercise mode focuses on eccentric resistance, the muscle growth response is greater as is the improvement in important mobility tasks, the authors add.
Another studies show that on average, those beginning treatment earlier stay in the hospital two days less and had five fewer rehabilitation sessions before discharge. An early start in knee surgery patient’s physical therapy treatment also led to less pain, a greater range of joint motion both in leg flexion and extension, improved muscle strength, and higher scores in tests for gait and balance.
How to properly recover from knee surgery
Every surgery and recovery is different. You should always follow recommendations from your doctor to ensure your health and safety. If you want to start your road to recovery as soon as you can, ask your doctor about starting physical therapy for optimal short-term recovery.
When you are able to return to your daily life after knee replacement, you then begin your long-term recovery. This is the process where you have completely healed from all surgical wounds and internal soft tissue. It is important for one to keep active after the short-term recovery period in order to assure complete healing.
If you are getting knee surgery, schedule your evaluation with ECRC Physical Therapy prior to your surgery date. If you feel like you need a new long-term recovery plan, one of our trained physical therapists can help personalize a plan for you.