Knee Replacement: Exercise is the Key to Successful Healing


If you’re planning on a knee replacement surgery or if you’ve recently had one, your health care professionals have already clued you in to the best way to a good outcome—faithful exercise. While knee replacements are becoming more and more routine, the results for individuals can vary widely. The most common problem in gaining back strength, flexibility and comfortable use of the knee, is the commitment made by the patient to follow rehabilitation programs faithfully.

 Ask Granny has some tips on how to increase your odds for a great recovery:

Take the operation and the follow-up rehabilitation seriously. Keep your appointments,

take prescribed medications and do the exercises assigned

Follow exercise guidelines to improve both extension of the leg and flexion, the ability to bend the knee normally. Increase repetitions of the exercises to hasten strength and flexibility.

Don’t lift heavy weights or otherwise stress the knee while it is healing.

Wear compression stockings at night if your doctor prescribes them. They may reduce your chances of developing blood clots.

Use ice at first and then alternate heat and ice to the area, especially after exercises.

Avoid alcohol and tobacco use during healing.

Keep your weight down as increased weight stresses the knee.

Set a walking goal with your doctor’s permission and increase it gradually.

Avoid high impact activities such as running or court sports.

Your doctor will give you an exercise regimen and you most likely will go to a rehabilitation center for part of your exercise sessions. But, it will be up to you to repeat the exercises at home. The major reason for a poor outcome in knee replacement is failure to complete the exercise programs. Here are some exercises recommended by health professionals to bring about optimal healing after knee replacement surgery.

Please note that your own doctor knows your condition best.

Always follow your personal plan if it conflicts in any way with general suggestions.

Seated Exercises: done while sitting on a straight-back chair

Bend Backs: bend leg back under the chair as far as possible. Hold for five seconds. Improves range of motion.

Prolonged Knee Stretch: bend leg back as far as possible and hold for 15-30 seconds. Move forward in the chair to increase the stretch.

Knee Straightening Stretch: Place leg on another chair in front of you. Extend the leg and leave it there for ten minutes. Extend the time gradually up to 30 minutes. Do heel slides after this to release pain and tension.

Lying flat on back exercises: Use an exercise mat or towels

Straight Leg Lifts: Raise leg six inches above the ground and hold for ten seconds.

Ankle Pumps: Point toes up and then down. Rotate them clockwise and counterclockwise. Increases blood flow and prevents blood clots.

Thigh Squeezes: Push back of knee to floor and hold. This reduces swelling and builds strength.

Leg Slides: Slide leg out to the side, while kneecap is pointed up. Strengthens muscles around knee.

Heel Slides: Place foot flat on floor. Slide heel back and then forward to starting position. Builds hamstring strength.

Lying Kicks: With rolled towel under knee, straighten leg and hold five seconds. Slowly lower to resting position. Be sure back of knee stays in contact with the towel and lower back stays on floor.

Passive Hamstring Stretch: Place foot on a stack of pillows. Stay in this extended position for ten minutes.

Check out these websites for more information and for diagrams of the above exercises.

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