Now that we’re getting towards the end of summer, many people will be getting ready to have knee surgery. There are 2 reasons we see more people having knee surgery this time of year: first, people tend to be more active during the spring and summer months. And unfortunately, this leads to more knee injuries, like MCL and meniscus tears. Second, it’s a nice time to have surgery for those who’ve been putting it off for a while, especially those people having a total knee replacement (TKR). The reason I consider it a nice time for TKR surgery is because it’s easy to get outside to start walking again, and you don’t have to deal with icy sidewalks and steps.
Today’s post is all about 3 things you can do to speed up your recovery after surgery, but first I want to give you some information about the various types of surgery people with knee pain end up having.
Here are the most common knee surgeries we help our clients with in the clinic:
->> Meniscus Repairs: people who’ve torn a meniscus tend to report painful popping in the knee, especially if they try to plant their foot and then twist. Some will also report painful locking of the knee when they try to bend and straighten it, followed by a painful clunk at times. Surgery is typically done “arthroscopically”, meaning the surgeon uses several small incisions to insert the camera and the small tools needed to either remove a portion of the meniscus (aka “meniscectomy”) or to repair it (meniscus repair). Often times, there will also be some MCL damage, which may or may not be addressed during surgery.
->> Total Knee Replacements (TKR): TKR surgery is perfect for people with advanced, “bone-on-bone” arthritis, who are experiencing constant pain. If you’ve looked into this surgery, you probably already know that it’s a major procedure, as both surfaces of the knee are replaced with metal components, with a plastic spacer in between. The good news is that people tend to have very good outcomes with this surgery, after enduring 2-3 months of physical therapy!
->> Others: there are quite a few other knee surgeries that we help people with in the clinic, including tibial plateau fractures, ACL repairs, and MPFL reconstructions (medial patello-femoral ligament). I won’t go into the details today, but the following tips will apply to all of these various types of surgery.
3 Tips to Speed Up Your Recovery!
->> Tip #1: Improve Your Flexibility. Regaining your knee flexibility is often one of your first goals following surgery. And depending on how much pain and swelling you have, this can be hard to accomplish. It can be especially hard to accomplish if your knee was really tight going into surgery, so any gains you can make prior to surgery will make the rehab process much easier.
->> Tip #2: Strengthen Your Quad Muscles. Your quadriceps muscles are the largest muscle group in your body, and they’re vital to helping stabilize your knee joint. Depending on your surgery, it can be difficult to get these muscles to engage, especially if you’re in a lot of pain. Leading up to surgery, any improvements you can make in strengthening these muscles will help you engage them after surgery.
->> Tip #3: Strengthen Your Hip Muscles. Your hip muscles are an integral component of your knee alignment and stability. So even if you can’t be especially active before surgery, it’s important that you keep these muscles as strong as possible. Doing exercises like straight leg raises, side straight leg raises, and clam-shells are very helpful.
Following these 3 tips will help you prepare for your knee surgery and give you a good shot at a speedy recovery. Staying active in general is also a good idea (walking, biking, swimming), although it depends on your level of pain prior to surgery. The rehab process following surgery varies, depending on the type of surgery, as well as your medical history. So your next important step is choosing a good PT clinic! If you have any other specific questions before or after your surgery, feel free to email me at Luke@GordonPhysicalTherapy.com
And if you’d like more information on ways you can eliminate knee pain, you can download my FREE report titled “7 Simple Ways to Stop Chronic, Daily, Annoying Knee Pain …Without Injections, Taking Painkillers or Having to Wear a Brace!” by visiting this page: https://physicaltherapyspokane.com/knee-pain-treatment/
Below is a video on this post, with a few more details. Stay well! – Luke Gordon