Total knee replacement is an excellent procedure for those suffering from a damaged joint due to a severe injury or a degenerative condition like arthritis. If you are about to get a total knee replacement, it is important to know what to expect following the procedure. Along with rest, a slow return to your normal routine, and physical therapy comes joint mobilization, which should begin almost immediately after the procedure.
The Benefits of Joint Mobilization
Joint mobilization or movement is critical to rehabilitation after total knee arthroplasty. Studies show that early movement while the patient is still hospitalized actually reduces their need to remain in the hospital by almost two days. In other words, the sooner you move the operated joint, the quicker you can go home to heal and rest.
Joint mobilization also features a number of other post-operative benefits, including:
- Reduction of pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Less reliance on pain medications
- Improved smooth movement of the “new” knee
- Better balance, coordination, and strength early on in recovery and long-term
- Improved safety, confidence, and independence in ambulation as you recover over the weeks to months after surgery
- Improved healing
How Joint Mobilization Works
As a total knee replacement patient, you will likely move the new joint within hours of surgery, walk within a day, and learn exercises to do at home before you leave the hospital or surgery center. All of this is to mobilize the joint and support the healing process. You will start out with light movements in the initial days of healing after surgery and move on to more intense exercises and stretches during post-surgery rehabilitation/PT sessions with a physical therapist. Consistency in practicing these movements as your physical therapist instructs will give you the best results.
Here are some examples of joint mobilization techniques you may be recommended to do with your physical therapist during your rehabilitation.
You or your physical therapist will move the patella, or knee cap, in the trochlear groove at the end of the thigh bone, or femur. Very gentle pressure is applied during these up and down motions, which encourage a smooth, gliding movement.
This exercise can be done in a firmly supported chair while you are in a seated position with the operated leg supported on another chair or stool. Hold the firm pressure for at least 30 seconds before doing the up and down motions.
Kicks in a Seated Position
Sitting on a supportive chair, raise the operated leg straight out and hold for five seconds. Lower the leg, rest, and repeat.
In a seated position, place both feet flat on the floor. Raise the heel of the operated leg up and down, feeling the stretch or pull in your calf muscle. Hold for five seconds, and lower your heel. Repeat.
Do these exercises lying on your back on the floor. Raise your operated leg straight up a few inches while keeping the knee straight. Hold, slowly lower, and repeat. This exercise may be done in a flat bed, as well.
Marching While Sitting
This should be done seated in a straight back chair. Put both feet flat on the floor. Lift each leg alternately, gently bending at the knees in a marching motion.
Total Joint Replacement Surgery in Watertown, New York
At North Country Orthopaedic Group in Watertown, NY, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons offer state-of-the-art treatments and procedures, including total knee replacement, to patients with musculoskeletal issues. However, the care we deliver doesn’t stop there. We offer the best in physical therapy, rehabilitation, and physical medicine to ensure you recover full joint function.
Call us for a consultation with a highly experienced orthopedic expert to discuss your treatment options: (315) 782-1650, or request an appointment by completing our convenient online form.