Physical Therapy after Knee, Hip, and Shoulder Joint Replacement

joint replacement

Physical Therapy after Knee, Hip, and Shoulder Joint Replacement

After you’ve undergone joint replacement surgery, it’s natural to seek plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation as you recover. Once you’ve endured the initial recovery phase of this type of surgery, however, it will be time to start thinking about how you’ll get your original range of motion (ROM) and muscle strength back. Physical therapy can help your muscles, tendons, and ligaments recover from joint replacement surgery, and this treatment is a necessary part of getting back on your feet. Learn more about physical therapy and how it can help you recover from knee, hip, or shoulder joint replacement surgery.

What Is Joint Replacement Surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is when an entire joint is removed from a patient’s body and replaced with a synthetic joint. This type of surgery is highly invasive, and it impairs the musculature and other tissues surrounding the joint.

The older a patient is, the harder it is to recover from joint replacement surgery, and a variety of treatment methods are used to assist in the recovery process no matter how old a patient is when he or she undergoes joint replacement surgery. The joints that are most commonly replaced are knees, hips, and shoulders.

How Does Physical Therapy Assist with Joint Replacement Surgery Recovery?

Physical therapy can help patients recover from a wide variety of different conditions. In the context of joint replacement surgery, physical therapy helps patients heal from the effects of surgery and regain their original ROM, comfort, and muscle strength.

Rather than relying on drugs, physical therapy harnesses a patient’s physical resources to encourage tissue recovery and regeneration. Physical therapists use a wide variety of different techniques to facilitate recovery from joint replacement surgery, and the results achieved from this type of therapy vary depending on the health of the patient and the type of surgery that was performed.

What Are Some Components of Post-Surgery Physical Therapy?

As soon as a patient is well enough to move after joint replacement surgery, a physical therapist will perform a full examination to determine a patient’s physical state. Palpation may be one component of this examination, which is the use of the hands to examine the area in question and discover any points of pain. In addition, physical therapists will usually perform ROM examinations after a patient undergoes surgery to determine the extent to which the patient can move his or her affected joint

These medical professionals also generally perform strength tests to determine the strength of the muscles surrounding the affected joint, and they may also perform functional mobility tests to determine a patient’s ability to run, pull resistant objects, or climb stairs. Physical therapists may also order medical imagery tests, such as MRIs, to get a better idea of the structure of the affected joint.

Exercises for Knee Replacement Surgery

While this comes as a surprise to many patients who undergo total knee replacement (TKR) surgery, it’s common for physical therapy for this type of therapy to begin the day of the surgery. Within a few hours of undergoing knee replacement surgery, patients are generally considered to be strong enough to stand up and walk short distances with the aid of mobility devices.

Shortly after your surgery, you will meet with a physical therapist who will lead you through a series of exercises that are designed to improve the blood flow in your legs and feet, which prevents blood clotting. Your physical therapist will help you get out of bed, and they will then help you perform the following movements:

• Walking short distances with the help of a walker or crutches

• Simple exercises that are designed to restore the range of motion of your knee

• Short, repetitive strengthening exercises

• Use of a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine to gradually restore knee musculature while in a resting position

• Stair climbing

• Exercises that are designed to reduce pain and swelling

Once you are discharged from the hospital, you may be allowed to go home, or you may be ordered to undergo sub-acute rehabilitation in an outpatient facility. At this rehabilitation facility, a team of doctors will ask you to perform increasingly intensive exercises to help you improve mobility and assess your stage in the recovery process.

Exercises for Hip Replacement Surgery

After you undergo total hip replacement (THR) surgery, you may be unable to stand or walk for 24-48 hours. During this time in bed, however, you will be able to begin the recovery process with simple stationary exercises.

Your physical therapist will walk you through how to perform ankle pumps and ankle rotations, for instance, and you will also be coached on how to do knee bends, buttock contractions, and straight leg raises. Once you are able to stand, you will be asked to perform standing knee raises, standing hip abductions, and your physical therapist will coach you on the best ways to begin walking and climbing stairs again.

Exercises for Shoulder Replacement Surgery

You will be able to get up and move around without any trouble almost immediately after your shoulder replacement operation is complete. While you may be asked to stay in the hospital for around 24 hours post-surgery, you may be able to go home within a few hours.

Before you leave the hospital, however, your physical therapist will coach you on how to do a few basic exercises that will help you recover. Perform each of these exercises 30 times per day:

• Elbow ROM exercises: With your sling removed, bend and straighten your arm as if you were brushing something off your pant legs.

• Grip strengthening: Make a tight fist for ten seconds, then release. • Scapula retraction: Pinch your shoulder blades together, then release.

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