Physical therapists can provide more than pre/post surgical knee rehabilitation for patients experiencing knee pain.
What Causes Knee Pain?
The knee is a relatively simple joint required to do a complicated job…to provide flexible mobility while bearing considerable weight. While walking down the street, our knees bear three to five times our body weight. When the knee is overstressed in sports or in everyday activities, these structures can break down — and a knee injury occurs.
Common Knee Problems Seen by Our Physical Therapists:
- Strain / Sprain
- Arthritis Pain
- Muscle Weakness
- Ligament Sprains
- ACL Tears
- Tendinitis (ie: Patellar, Pes Anserinus)
- Chondromalacia Patella
- Patellofemoral Syndrome / Knee Pain
- Pre / Post Operative Therapy
How Physical Therapy Provides Knee Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation acutely after knee surgery or a knee injury primarily centers around decreasing swelling in the knee joint. Even a small amount of fluid inhibits the quadriceps muscle on the front of knee by slowing the signal for movement traveling from the brain to the muscle. Manual techniques to decrease muscle spasm and improve length tension relationships of soft tissue are also incorporated. Gradually, exercises to increase strength, range of motion and functional mobility are introduced.
Treatments Offered Include:
- Comprehensive evaluation with an emphasis on determining the source of the problem
- Individualized and specific exercise programs
- Manual therapy (hands-on treatment)
- Modalities as needed
- Work and sport specific simulations
- Progressive home program to help restore independence and self-management
Knee Rehabilitation Goals:
- Reduce Pain
- Improve Mobility
- Movement Awareness/Gait Training
- Functional Strength
- Patient Education
For more information on knee injuries visit our PT & Me Knee Injury Center page by clicking here.
The PT & Me Injury Center goes over diagnoses on how physical therapists treat specific injuries.
To find or search for a local participating PT & Me physical therapy clinic in your local area please click here.
PREHAB Home Preparation
Before total knee replacement surgery there are a few simple things you can do in your home to make it safer and more comfortable during recovery.
- Consider keeping a cordless phone near you or carry your cell phone in your pocket.
- Move furniture to keep a clear wide path to your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.
- Remove throw rugs that may cause you to slip or trip. Tape down any loose edges of large area rugs that cannot be removed. Make sure extension cords are out of traffic areas or tape them down if needed.
- Wear rubber sole shoes to prevent slipping.
- Keep commonly used items in your home at waist level within easy reach. This will prevent you from bending over to reach items. Use a reacher to grab objects and avoid excessive bending at the knee.
- Make sure there is adequate lighting in the house. Add night lights in hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
- It may be helpful to have temporary living space on the same floor if your bedroom/bathroom is located on the second floor of your home. Walking up/down stairs will be more difficult immediately following surgery and could increase your risk for falls.
- Arrange for someone to collect your mail and take care of pets or loved ones if necessary.
- Prepare frozen meals in advance to assist you with cooking.
- Stock up on groceries, toiletries, and any needed medications you might need.
- A shower chair or a tub bench will make bathing much easier. Do not take soak baths until your physician allows you to do so.
- An elevated toilet seat will be helpful with toilet transfers and with following post surgical precautions or guidelines.
- Assistive devices for dressing such as a reacher, extended shoe horn and / or sock aid may be necessary during your post operative recovery.
While it’s important to prepare your home before surgery, PREHAB should also include physical therapy. Physical therapists will work with patients to create an exercise program before surgery that can help improve performance and decrease recovery times after a total knee replacement. Talk to a PT near you and learn about the benefits of PREHAB before total joint replacements.
Many people with arthritis favor their joints over time in an effort to relieve pain and thus become weaker in their leg muscles or lose range of motion. However, the better shape you are in before surgery the better your results will be after surgery so it is important to strengthen your leg muscles and work on your range of motion. Before surgery your physical therapist will teach you appropriate exercises to help improve strength, range of motion, and balance. They will also teach you how to walk with an appropriate assistive device such as a walker or cane in the immediate post operative recovery period. Finally, they will discuss precautions and advise you in a few short term home adaptations such as removing loose rugs to help make your recovery easier and safer.
• Develop an exercise program with your PT to help you
• Improve strength
• Improve range of motion
• Improve balance
• Gait training — Review walking with an appropriate assistive device such as a walker or cane in the immediate post operative recovery period
• Discuss precautions and review a few short term home adaptations that can help make your recovery easier and safer
Pre Surgery Exercise Plan
Make every effort to begin these exercises as early as possible before your surgery. Only do what you are able to do without increasing your pain. It is important for you not to exacerbate your pain prior to surgery. Ice packs for 15 minutes following your exercises may be helpful to reduce any soreness in your knee.
This information was written by STAR Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy group with 60 locations in Tennessee, offering more than 15 comprehensive specialty services. STAR Physical Therapy was established in 1997 with one clinic and one mission – to serve. Today, they’ve grown to offer that direct service in more than 60 clinics. While they’ve grown, one thing that has not changed is their commitment to you, their communities, and their employees. For more information click here.
More about knee replacements and physical therapy can be found here: