Whether you’re waiting for knee replacement surgery or have already undergone the procedure, you’ve likely experienced a great deal of pain. Not only that, the diminished quality of life can be worse than the pain itself! The sitting and waiting, and the inescapable feeling that life is passing you by can be almost maddening.
Postoperative pain can even hang around for six months to a year. But, recovery is a necessary evil.
Knee Replacement Recovery: What to Expect
I’m sure your doctor outlined the recovery procedure clearly for you. It involves plenty of ice, inactivity, and painkillers, especially for the first couple of weeks.
Physiotherapy likely commences a few weeks following the surgery date. Following the instructions and making sure you do the exercises are essential to a full recovery.
Strengthening the area is the only way to ensure it functions at a high level so that you can get back to enjoying your life. Furthermore, building strong muscles around the joint can ensure less stress, and lower the chances of future problems.
The Benefits of Pre-Op Pain Management
Managing pain presurgery is also highly recommended. And research has shown that exercise can play a major role in pain reduction as you wait.
An Australian study showed that people waiting for knee replacement surgeries had a significant reduction in pain leading up to the procedure by exercising. Participants were randomly assigned to either a pool or land group, and educated on how to safely perform movements. The classes were also led by instructors, and included riding a bike, walking, and pool fitness classes.
At the end of the study and follow-up period, both groups showed similar benefits in mobility, functionality, and pain relief. This is great news if you’re dealing with knee pain and waiting for surgery.
When exercise is performed properly, it strengthens the muscles and tendons surrounding the joint. It allows the weight to be transferred to the muscle so that it reduces strain and pressure on the joint. Also, physical activity pumps synovial fluid into the joint, acting as a lubricant to make sure it moves as smoothly as possible.
Whether you’re getting ready for knee surgery (which can often have a long wait period) or recovering from a procedure, working on strengthening the area is extremely important.
Knee Replacement: Post-Op Tips
During the postoperative phase, please don’t rush into activity. Instead, follow the protocol offered by your doctor and physiotherapist so that you come back stronger than ever!
Although there isn’t a lot you can do immediately following surgery, paying close attention to what you’re eating can help with recovery. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables with a few servings of lean protein a day can help limit inflammation and aid in tissue growth. These foods will also keep weight gain during recovery to a minimum, which will aid treatment once you start moving again!
Gill, S.D., et al., “Land-based versus pool-based exercise for people awaiting joint replacement surgery of the hip or knee: results of a randomized controlled trial,” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, March 2009; 90(3): 388-394. DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2008.09.561.