Before and after undergoing joint replacement, whether it’s for a knee, shoulder or hip, physical therapy plays a critical role in every stage of the process. It’s important to be as fit as possible before undergoing a joint replacement.
Physical therapy can provide a patient with critical exercises before surgery to provide a platform for the fastest postoperative recovery possible.
Our patients are eager to learn about their joint replacement. As part of our joint replacement services, we prepare you for what to do before surgery, what to expect during the hospital stay, how to prepare for your return home and what your family members should expect.
The recovery and rehabilitation process following a joint replacement plays a crucial role in how quickly you recover from the surgery. Additionally, effective rehabilitation will lead to your best possible outcome. Physical therapy prior to surgery can help you heal from surgery faster and greatly improve your chances for long-term success. It’s important that you personally commit to a physical therapy plan and really push yourself. Many patients facing the prospect of a joint replacement feel natural anxiety surrounding the recovery process and eventual outcome. However, they find that after attending regular therapy sessions and following a strict home exercise program, they are in better shape than before surgery.
Partial Joint Replacement
A partial joint replacement is surgery to replace only one part of a damaged knee, hip or shoulder. The most common partial joint replacement is the partial knee replacement. It can replace either the inside (medial) part, the outside (lateral) part, or the kneecap part of the knee.These surgeries are less traumatic than a total replacement and can preserve more of the joints movement and function, plus recovery time is shorter.
Total Joint Replacement
A total joint replacement is performed when a joint becomes so degenerated or damaged that the patient cannot function well or is in constant pain. During a total joint replacement, the damaged surfaces of the joint are removed and replaced with artificial surfaces made of metal and plastic. The total joint replacement effectively restores the joint to a new condition which allows it to move and function without pain or instability.
In the first few days following a surgery you will be required to start exercising and moving the joint. The first few sessions will be performed in the hospital then you will be sent home and a therapist will visit you there. As soon as you are up and about and able to leave the house you will begin Outpatient Physical Therapy. A typical Outpatient Physical Therapy plan of care is 12 weeks in duration although it may be shorter or longer depending on the individual patient and the surgery they received. Be prepared to commit 3 hours of your week to attending therapy sessions and additional time for home exercises and activities to get the best possible results. If you’ve been diligent and committed to rehab, it’s likely that you are up and about and beginning to enjoy activities like walking, swimming, golf, dancing, and bicycling after about 12 weeks. It’s important to continue with your exercise. Avoid the temptation to engage in high impact activities that could damage your implant or cause damage to surrounding tissue. These include:
- high-intensity cycling
It’s critical to stay in touch with your medical team throughout this period and begin activities only after receiving clearance from them.
Goals Toward the End of Therapy
- limited or no pain at all with normal activities and exercise
- no loss in your range of motion
- ongoing exercise regime such as walking, swimming, golf and cycling
- ongoing communication with your physical therapist and medical team