The fast facts
- Each year, an average of 24,000 people are helped with a new knee
- Within the first 3 months, the greatest recovery occurs
- Sometimes the rehabilitation can last up to 1 year
- The surgery 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 by a prosthesis. The muscle strength and the mobility of the joint is often reduced by the osteoarthritis and the surgery. A quick start with rehabilitation is very important for the recovery of these functions. The therapists of Fysio Fitaal will teach you how to strengthen the muscles around the knee and how the mobility can be regained. They also look at how you can best carry out 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 will gradually increase and walking will become easier. An average rehabilitation of a 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
Life span of knee replacement
With a new knee, you will regain more range of motion and the symptoms will diminish. Normally you will last at least 15 years with an artificial knee. How long it will last depends on several factors: the general physical condition, the body weight and the activity level of the person. If you put too much strain on the artificial knee, the life span of the prosthesis may be shortened. 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 have lasted a lot longer than they did a few years ago.
Usually, there is a choice between full anesthesia and regional anesthesia through 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 replacement can be a solution. Then only the inside or the outside of the knee is worn out. During surgery an incision is made at 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 them 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.
Advices for immediately after surgery
- Keep moving. See if you can manage to walk with the crutches for 3-10 minutes every hour.
- Place the leg up high to allow the swelling to go down.
- Do not sit with the leg down for too long. This can create a lot of pressure in the knee.
- Practice a lot of bending and stretching of the knee. Quickly getting to 90 degrees of flexion 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 still be reactive for a longer period of time. This means that a reaction to loading is normal. An example is swelling because you did more in the morning. You will be fine!
- For the first 6 weeks, it is not common to drive a car. The wound is still recovering and may reopen with a quick unexpected movement. Also, it is not convenient insurance-wise should you cause damage to yourself or others.
- If there is a fever, redness of the knee or irritation of the wound call the hospital to be sure.
- Redness and shiny calf along with cramping can be a sign of thrombosis. Keep a close eye on this.
- Always indicate to the dentist that you have a joint prosthesis. This is due to the increased risk of infection.
The first phase
In the first 6 weeks, the prosthesis should start 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 phases and steps. Good strength, stability and control of the knee is necessary to be able to safely perform your daily activities again. During rehabilitation, you will see the physical therapist an average of 2 to 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 is often dependent on various factors and therefore hard to say 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 Fysio Fitaal
Rehabilitation from a knee replacement takes an average of 6-9 months. During the rehabilitation there will always be small and sometimes big setbacks. Especially in certain phases, it will go slower than you thought beforehand. Patience is necessary. Our specialists will guide you through this process as best as they can and motivate you where necessary. Fysio Fitaal works with specialists in the field of rehabilitation after surgery and osteoarthritis related complaints. This combination of expertise, extensive facilities and passion for physiotherapy means that you have come to the right place.