The fast facts
- Each year, an average of 24,000 people are helped with a new knee
- The greatest recovery occurs within the first 3 months
- Sometimes rehabilitation can take up to 1 year
- The operation takes an average of 2 hours
- After surgery, physical therapy is an important part of rehabilitation
A new knee
When various treatments no longer have the desired effect, a total knee replacement is an option. The joint is often replaced in its entirety with a prosthesis. The muscle strength and mobility of the joint is often reduced due to osteoarthritis and surgery. A quick start to rehabilitation is very important for the recovery of these functions. The therapists at Fysio Fitaal will teach you how to strengthen the muscles around the knee and how to regain mobility. They also look at how you can best perform your daily activities. Most people can walk again without crutches after 6 weeks. After that, the pain in the knee will continue to decrease. The condition gradually increases again and walking will become easier and easier. An average rehabilitation of new knee or hip takes 3-9 months.
A knee replacement aims to:
- Reduce the pain
- Improve quality of life
- Increasing mobility in the knee
- Being able to walk normally again
Lifetime knee replacement
With a new knee, you will regain more range of motion and symptoms will decrease. Typically, an artificial knee will last at least 15 years. How long it will last depends on several factors: general physical condition, body weight and activity level. If you put too much strain on the artificial knee, the prosthesis may not last as long. The prosthesis is designed to mimic the function of the original knee joint as closely as possible. However, the material will always be subject to wear and tear. In general, prostheses are already lasting a lot longer than they did a few years ago.
There is usually a choice between general anesthesia and regional anesthesia by means of an epidural. On average, the surgery takes 2 hours. In the vast majority of cases, a total prosthesis is chosen. This means that the entire knee will be replaced. In some cases, a half knee prosthesis also offers a solution. Then only the inner or outer side of the knee is worn out. During surgery, an incision is made on the front of the knee. The orthopedist removes the original ends of the lower leg and upper leg. These ends are replaced with metal pieces. Between these is a disc of plastic that provides smooth movement between the parts of the prosthesis. Osteoarthritis can cause a misalignment of the lower leg in relation to the upper leg. This misalignment can be corrected during surgery on the knee. This is called an osteotomy. The pressure on the knee joint is better distributed again after this correction.
Advice for immediately after surgery
- Keep moving. See if you can already manage to take a little walk with the crutches every hour for 3-10 minutes.
- Place the leg high to allow the swelling to go down.
- Do not sit with the leg down for too long. This can cause a lot of pressure in the knee.
- Practice a lot bending stretching the knee. Getting to 90-degree flexion quickly is necessary for further therapy on an exercise bike, for example.
- You may just take support on the leg with the help of your crutches. Do not be afraid to strain. Unless otherwise directed by the hospital.
- The knee may be reactive for an extended period of time. This means that a reaction to loading is normal. An example is increased swelling because you did a little more in the morning. Get well again!
- For the first 6 weeks it is not usual to drive a car. The wound is still recovering and can reopen with a quick unexpected movement. Also, it is not convenient insurance-wise should you cause damage to yourself or others.
- In case of fever, redness of the knee or irritation of the wound call the hospital to be sure.
- Redness and shining of the calf along with cramping can be a sign of thrombosis. Keep a close eye on this.
- At the dentist, always indicate that you have a joint prosthesis. This is because of the increased risk of infection.
The first phase
In the first 6 weeks, the prosthesis should begin to grow in. High-speed movements should be avoided. The scar may remain somewhat sensitive for the next few weeks to months. A blue discoloration of the leg, swelling and pain may be present. Pain relief is therefore recommended. Because you move less along with the side effects of surgery is you will be given medication to prevent thrombosis.
The next steps
Successful rehabilitation consists of several stages and steps. Good strength, stability and control of the knee is necessary to safely perform your daily activities again. During rehabilitation, you will visit the physical therapist an average of 2-3 times a week. The first phase of rehabilitation will focus on restoring knee mobility and gait. After that, the focus will be on the strength of the muscles around the knee. How long the rehabilitation will take often depends on several factors and therefore cannot be said in advance. However, there are guidelines available on the goals to be achieved:
- Within 4 weeks with 1 crutch
- Within 6 weeks without crutches
- Driving again after 6 weeks
- Cycling outside again after 4 months
Rehabilitation at Physio Fitaal
Rehabilitation from a knee replacement takes an average of 6-9 months. During rehabilitation, there will always be small and sometimes large setbacks coming your way. Especially in certain phases, things will go slower than you thought beforehand. Patience is necessary. Our specialists will guide and motivate you as much as possible during this process. Fysio Fitaal works with specialists in the field of rehabilitation after surgery and osteoarthritis related complaints. Through this combination of expertise, extensive facilities and passion for physiotherapy you have come to the right place.
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