Navigating the Road to Knee Replacement Surgery and Recovery

Navigating the Road to Knee Replacement Surgery and Recovery

If you’re someone who’s been suffering from chronic knee pain or reduced function and mobility, you and your doctor may have discussed the option of knee replacement surgery. It’s also referred to as a total knee arthroplasty (TKA), and it’s one of the most common and most successful joint replacement surgeries. However, you might not realize how challenging the recovery is. The good news is that physical therapy can be very helpful in achieving optimal outcomes.

Read our informative article so you’ll know what to expect from knee replacement surgery, and find out how our skilled physiotherapists can guide you through every step of your rehabilitation and recovery!

2023 Update on Provincial Funding Post Knee or Hip Replacement: 

In 2023, the provincial government announced additional resources for physiotherapy to assist in postoperative hip and knee replacement rehabilitation. If you had a hip or knee replacement after Jan 1, 2023, you are likely eligible for some physiotherapy coverage in a private physiotherapy clinic under this program.

At Beverly Physiotherapy, we offer direct billing for those who are eligible under this program as well as any other private insurance benefits plans. We can assist you to find out what coverage you have.

Understanding Knee Replacement Surgery

You might be wondering what actually happens during knee replacement surgery, and reasonably so—it’s not every day that you wake up with a new bionic part. Your surgical team will walk you through all of the intricacies of your procedure, but essentially your surgery will involve replacing the damaged or diseased surfaces of the knee joint with artificial ones made out of metal and plastic components. Most of the time, the surgery involves replacing the entire knee joint, but occasionally a partial knee replacement may be performed if only part of the joint is damaged.

Knee replacements are most commonly recommended for individuals with severe osteoarthritis. However, this surgery can also be beneficial for other conditions where there is significant joint damage, such as with rheumatoid arthritis or traumatic injuries. 

Because the knee is a more complex joint than the simpler ball and socket joint of the hip, recovery from a knee replacement can be more challenging and can take longer than it does for a hip replacement. The good news is that both surgeries have very high success rates.

What to Expect

Most patients undergoing knee replacement surgery will spend anywhere from one to three days in hospital. Occasionally, select patients may be able to be discharged on the same day as their surgery. 

Early mobilization is one of the main goals post-op. It is essential to prevent complications such as blood clots. Your care team will help you with moving your operated leg, assisting you in/out of bed, and helping you to walk with a mobility aid (most likely a walker to start). Before discharging you from hospital, they will need to ensure that your pain is well managed and that you can eat, drink, and use the bathroom independently. Your hospital physiotherapist will also assess your ability to do a few stairs but don’t worry—they’ll show you some tricks to make it easier! They will also demonstrate some exercises to do at home.

Once you’ve been released from hospital, your recovery journey will continue. Exercise, ice, and elevation will be a part of your daily routine. Physiotherapy can play a central role in developing a plan for rehabilitation that will enhance the outcome of your procedure. Physiotherapists are very skilled at guiding patients through exercises that will restore your range of motion, strengthen muscles, and enhance your overall knee function.

Why Knee Replacement Recovery Can Be More Challenging

Often, by the time a person ends up having a knee replacement, there can already be a fair amount of stiffness and weakness in the joint which can make recovery more challenging. In fact, many patients have physiotherapy before knee surgery to help improve range of motion, strength, and balance in order to improve their outcomes post-op. We call it ‘prehab’!

The knee is a complex joint with multiple ligaments, tendons, and components that need to work together seamlessly. The design allows for a wide range of motion but also significant weight-bearing, which allows us to do a range of activities. 

Because we rely on our knees for so many basic activities, it can be really challenging and sometimes painful post-op to stand, walk, climb stairs, or even get on/off the toilet. Swelling and stiffness is very common after a knee replacement and can persist for months after the surgery. 

Optimal recovery from your knee surgery depends on repeated and progressive exercises done on a daily basis. These exercises should include range of motion, stretches, strength and balance exercises, as well as functional exercises. Depending on your lifestyle, you may also need exercises specific to your unique daily activities. A rehab program for someone who plays tennis or drives a standard vehicle or works as a health care aide will all look a little bit different because of the different demands on the knee. 

A physiotherapy program tailored specifically to you with your unique needs and goals will help ensure your successful recovery!

The Role of Physiotherapy in Your Recovery

Getting through your knee surgery and getting home is the first step. The next one is to take control of your rehabilitation process by enlisting the support of a skilled physiotherapist.

Our team at Beverly Physiotherapy has a lot of experience working with patients who have undergone knee replacements. We create personalized rehab programs that will address each patient’s unique challenges, with a big focus on regaining range of motion. It is very important to get as much early movement as possible after a knee replacement. It is also important to have a certain amount of knee movement for basic functional activities like getting out of a chair or using stairs. You will also be given exercises for strength and balance, but regaining range of motion is definitely the top priority. 

Pain is usually a part of the picture after a knee replacement. Along with taking your prescribed medications, physiotherapists can help you manage your pain with alternative therapies. Ice, elevation, massage and manual therapies along with other modalities, like TENS units, can all help to alleviate discomfort. Providing guidance with a gradual progressive exercise program will ensure that you aren’t doing too much or too little post-op.

Physiotherapists understand that every patient’s recovery journey is unique. That’s why we tailor our plans to suit your individual needs and goals. Through ongoing assessment and adjustment, we can ensure that your physiotherapy process evolves to match your specific progress.

Make Us a Part of Your Recovery Process

We want to help you achieve optimal recovery after your knee replacement surgery! 

Our clinic works with a lot of patients who have had knee replacements and we understand that the process may feel overwhelming. However, with the right guidance and support, you can look forward to a full and active life post-surgery.

If you or a loved one is considering or has undergone knee replacement surgery, give us a call at 204-774-8385 to find out how we can support you. We’re committed to optimizing your recovery, alleviating your pain, and restoring your function. We encourage you to watch this informative video to learn more about what to expect:

Trust in the expertise of our compassionate physiotherapists to guide you through the challenges of knee replacement recovery and regain the freedom to move with confidence and comfort. We would love to be a part of your rehab journey and recovery!