Physical therapy is really what it’s all about after total knee replacement. You really have to trust yourself and keep up with your exercises after total knee replacement. You want to get that flexion and extension to where it needs to be and it will only happen with hard work.
After my total knee replacement surgery, I had physical therapy the day of the surgery. I was up and walking the day of surgery. The surgery was in the morning and I was walking that afternoon around 4:00 PM. Heck, no rest for the weary! The next, day I was walking up and down stairs. That was fantastic! I was not going to be limited to one floor post op. On the fourth day, I went home to begin my long recuperation. For the first three weeks, I had a physical therapis come to my home to work with me. Then I had a driver escort me back and forth from treatment and by the fifth week, I was driving myself back and forth from physical therapy.
I am now about three months out and doing fairly well. I am having trouble with a suture reaction, but that will resolve itself overtime. It is seen frequently and is not much to worry about.
So the flexion and extension that is measured at every visit with the physical therapist as a marker of progress has to be achieved before your body shuts down and change can no longer occur. You see you have a certain window during which the exercises can affect your ultimate outcome from the total knee replacement. The more you work it, the greater your flexibility will be for the life of your replacement unit! So don’t forget to work it.
For extension, my primary tool is a rolled up yoga mat with the plastic wrap still on it. I lay in bed with the mat at the end of the bed with my ankle resting on the mat. I flex my quads and hold for five seconds, then release. I do this over and over while watching TV and taking care that my foot does not roll outward, like a duck. If anything, you want the knee to roll in toward the other knee. Then you press downward and try to get that knee as flat as possible. Having a leg that straightens out fully is important for walking.
For flexion, you start with knee slides. You will sit in a chair with a rag under your foot. On a wooden, or tiled floor you will slide your foot out and back. You can do this same movement while laying on the floor with your butt a foot or so away from the wall. Again with a rag or pillow case under your foot, you will slide your foot up and down the wall. If need be, you will use your other foot as a weight to help the operative leg to slide further down and then hold while you count to five. Then release and move leg and foot back up the wall. You can also do knee slides in bed, while lying down. Don’t forget you can use the non operative foot to press Your other ankle back, to give your operative knee a better stretch!
I also like to use my bar chair for flexion. I have noticed that with my non operative leg I can flip my foot around the back of the bar down below. So I feel like I should ultimately be able to do this same maneuver with my foot on the operative side. At first, it was quite a feat just to get my foot on the bar and hold it to stetch out the knee while watching TV. Later the job was to push my foot farther and farther backward; first to heel, then to mid foot, later to toes. The thing about this chair is the bar lets me know exactly where I am at with moving the process forward. I am sure you will find your own favorite techniques, as you approach your own quest toward greater mobility post total knee replacement.
Have you ever been through a round of physical therapy? What tips or tricks did you use? What advice do you have for others who are just beginning physical therapy?
If you think you would benefit from enlisting someone to talk you through the process and hold you accountable, contact me and we can schedule a time to talk.
All my best to you,
Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC, BCC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
The Wellness Coach from Building Better Bodies Rocks
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio
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