Rehabilitation After Knee Arthroplasty
Physical therapy begins very soon after knee arthroplasty (replacement) is complete, and usually lasts for about 6 weeks. Patients are given analgesics to relieve postoperative pain sufficiently so that they can begin knee exercises as soon as possible. At first, they are encouraged to sit up and perform knee slides. Within days, or even hours, they are instructed to perform other exercises in order to regain muscle strength and flexibility. In addition, many patients are taught to use continuous passive motion devices.
Physical rehabilitation after knee arthroplasty has a number of goals. First and foremost, rehabilitation is necessary to prevent postsurgical complications, including deep vein thrombosis, pressure ulcers (bedsores) and pulmonary embolisms, from developing. Exercises are also necessary for the patient to regain adequate strength and function, including as full a range of motion as possible. Physical therapy enables the patient to walk, although it is important that the knee not bear too much weight as it heals. Most patients require the use of assistive devices such as crutches or walkers for a week or more following knee arthroplasty.