Recovery from a knee replacement surgery begins while you are still in the hospital. Physical therapy starts the process of getting your knee bending again and functioning properly. The physical exercises the therapists teach you in the hospital become daily activity for you until you can walk normally again.
The medical staff will encourage you to walk almost immediately after your surgery. Your physical therapist or nurse will assist you in putting as much weight as possible on the knee. Only put comfortable pressure on the knee while still recovering from the procedure.
Walking may require crutches or a walker for several weeks after the procedure. These devices allow you to take some of the weight off your knee while it still recovers.
Walking helps get your knee bending properly and accepting more and more of your weight as you recover.
Range of Motion Exercises
Range of motion exercises can begin on the day of your surgery or the day after. These exercises consist of bending and straightening the knee while still in your hospital bed. Your physical therapist will also help you bend the knee while you sit on the end of your hospital bed—another range-of-motion exercise.
The exercises you do after your knee replacement surgery will help your recovery. Use exercises that increase the strength of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles to support the knee. These muscles make up an integral part of the full functioning of the new knee.
A University of Delaware study concluded that strength training exercises play an important role in the recovery of the knee and that treating the knee delicately can actually hamper a full recovery. Begin your strength training exercises about three or four weeks after the knee replacement.
Strength training may lead to a full recovery of your knee. You can walk for a couple of hours at a time, but you may have a difficult time with jogging or running. Engage in exercises that relieve some of the pressure on the knee such as swimming and water exercises while recovering from a knee replacement.
Do not engage in very intensive sports and some contact sports after your knee replacement surgery. Sports such as basketball, tennis and tackle football may damage the new knee. Discuss your limitations with your doctor to avoid causing additional injury to your knee. Work with the physical therapist to strengthen the muscles in your legs to support your knee replacement.