Best Exercises & Tips to Do After Knee Replacement Surgery

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Patients who had a Knee replacement surgery must take precautions to protect their new hips or knees. Given the fact that a patient will remain admitted for around 3-4 days, it is considered a major surgical procedure. Hence, it is very important to take the necessary precautions after the replacement surgery.

These precautions start immediately after the surgery, and some of them are to be followed even after a couple of months to maintain the life of implants.

Here are some exercises that can be done after a knee replacement surgery

People who have undergone a knee replacement surgery may feel that the leg muscles are weaker than normal. This is mainly because the person has not used them much after the surgery, or has been using them less due to the pain he/she felt before the surgery.

While surgery has been done to correct the knee, additional exercise is required to reduce the swelling and increase the knee motion and strength.

The strengthening exercises that are advised to the patient aim at increasing the muscle strength and the overall range of motion of the knee. This physical rehabilitation aims in improving the overall outcome of the surgery and provide a better lifestyle to the patient.

All these exercises are to be done as a repetition of 10, twice a day. Three exercises per day are sufficient to start with and can be increased eventually.

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7 simple exercises to do after knee replacement surgery

The strengthening exercises below can be done on the edge of a bed or any other semi-firm platforms.

Ankle pumps and circles

Pump the feet up and down by pulling the feet up toward yourself. The feet should be pushed away then, and a rotation should be done clockwise and anticlockwise.

Ankle Pumps and Circles
Ankle Pumps and Circles

Thigh squeezes (quadriceps sets)

Tighten the muscles on the thigh with the back of the knee, and then push the knee down into the bed. Keep pushing and hold for 5 seconds and then relax.

Quadriceps Sets
Quadriceps Sets

Heel slides (hip and knee flexion)

Bend the surgical knee by sliding the heel toward the buttocks. Keep the heel on the bed while you do this. Slide the heel back to the starting position and keep the heel on the bed. Keep the knee cap pointed towards the ceiling. A plastic bag can be kept under the hip for an easier exercise.

Heel Slides
Heel Slides

Leg slides (abduction/adduction)

Slide the surgical leg out to the side, keeping the kneecap pointed up toward the ceiling. Repeat and bring the kneecap back to the original position and a plastic bag can be used to make the slide easier.

Leg Slides
Leg Slides

Lying kicks (short arc quadriceps)

The patient should lie on the back, using a towel which is at least 6 inches thick under the knee of the surgical leg. Straighten the knee of the surgical leg. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower the leg down and relax. The back of the knee should remain in contact with the blanket during this exercise.

Lying Kicks
Lying Kicks

Straight leg raises

Bend the non-surgical leg with the foot flat on the bed. Tighten the muscles on the thigh while stiffening the knee. Raise the kneecap surgical leg up (about 12 inches), keeping the knee straight. Hold for 5 seconds, and then relax.

Straight Leg Raises
Straight Leg Raises

Sitting kicks (long arc quadriceps)

Sit on a firm chair and straighten the knees. Hold it for 5 seconds and slowly raise the legs up and down.

Sitting Kicks
Sitting Kicks

Tips for Post-Surgery Recovery & Management

Additional tips and measures should be observed in the post-surgery phase to help in healing and decreasing the risk of injuries and dislocations.

Use a Walker or Cane

A walker or cane helps to prevent falls and risks of dislocating new knees. In addition, using a walker also signals to strangers to be more cautious around the users – this reduces the chances of accidents or bumping into people.

Mostly, over the course of a couple of months, the patients will be able to live independently of walkers and canes.

Treat the Pain and swelling

It is very important that replacement patients get adequate pain relief. Patients who have excessive pain often fail to join rehabilitation exercises. This has another negative impact on the ongoing process and leads to an even chronic pain.

At times, patients also end up not taking pain killers with the fear of ending up into addiction. These patients should talk to their doctors for the potential side effects and concerns that they have about their pain management. Doctors can prescribe different medicines that will help them manage pain and will minimize the side effects.

Movement Restrictions

While in a lying or a sitting position, legs should not be crossed over one another at the knees or ankles.

When lying down, the leg should not be turned inward. Keeping the toes pointing towards the ceiling is the best option. And while sleeping, the person should prefer sleeping on the side that is fine.

While sleeping, a pillow should be put between the legs.

Do not bend forward to reach for your feet, this can bend the knee beyond the capacity.

Specific things to do and NOT to do after a Knee Replacement:

  • Knee bending must be done gently, and it should be done repeatedly to increase muscle strength.
  • Sitting for more than 45 minutes might cause pain. Avoid that.
  • When getting up from a chair, slip to the front and use the arms to leverage and stand. This gives added support.
  • When getting dressed, put your pants in the leg which has not gotten the surgery done.
  • When climbing up the stairs, step up using the un-injured leg first. Then gather the strength to lift the second leg.

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