Total knee replacement is sometimes needed if you suffer from knee osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. It is a major cause of lower body pain and stiffness and is a common condition. It is typically a result of wear and tear and progressive loss of articular cartilage. Over time, this can reduce your activity level, that in turn, may lead to reduced strength.
While conservative measures are taken initially, total knee arthroplasty (TKA), aka total knee replacement, can be an effective treatment for end-stage knee osteoarthritis.
What is Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
Total knee arthroplasty, also known as total knee replacement, is a surgical procedure to resurface a knee damaged by arthritis. Metal and plastics parts are used to cap the ends of the bones that form the knee joint, along with the knee cap.
TKAs are being performed on younger, more active patients in recent years, aiming for higher desired levels of activity and demands postoperatively.
If you have scheduled a total knee replacement, it may be weeks or months before it is performed. During this time, it is important to maintain your activity level and optimize your knee range of motion, strength, and flexibility. Taking steps now can ensure you are most prepared for recovery postoperatively.
How can you prepare yourself best for your total knee replacement?
Optimize Your Knee’s Range of Motion:
Range of motion refers to the amount your knee can bend (flexion) and straighten (extension).
Your knee’s range of motion (ROM) prior to surgery can directly impact your postoperative ROM. Your knee is required to flex and extend for various tasks involved in daily life.
- Flexion ROM: squatting, going up and down stairs, getting in and out of your car, bathtub use
- Extension ROM: achieving full knee extension is crucial for returning to your normal gait mechanics to avoid compensations.
Exercises to improve your knee range of motion can vary depending on your current status. It may include heel slides, as well as stretching your hip flexor, hamstring, quadriceps, and gastroc.
Maintaining activity levels is also important. Lower impact exercise is a good option, such as cycling and swimming.
Muscle strengthening is an important tool in the management of knee osteoarthritis and is also appropriate for people who are waiting for their TKA.
Quadriceps strength is closely related to knee function post TKA. In addition, it is important to maintain strength in all supporting muscles of the lower body and core. Depending on your current condition, muscle strengthening can range from quadriceps sets, straight leg raises, side lying hip abduction to mini squats. It is helpful to consult with a physical therapist to determine what is the best avenue of strengthening for you.
Set up your Home for Total Knee Replacement post-surgery success:
- Remove clutter including throw rugs and other potential tripping hazards.
- Check your stairs to ensure the railings are secure.
- Set up a single level living space for your bedroom and bathroom for the early stages of recovery.
- Set up grab bars in bathrooms, raised toilet seat, and shower chair for the short-term acute phase of your recovery.
Are you scheduled for TKA? Set up an appointment with Positive Energy PT & SP for a pre-op TKA evaluation. We can provide personalized guidance to promote optimal preoperative status, set a baseline, and guide your goals for your total knee replacement postoperative care.
- Bade MJ, Kittelson JM, Kohrt WM, Stevens-Lapsley JE. Predicting functional performance and range of motion outcomes after total knee arthroplasty.
- Wimmer MA, Nechtow W, Schwenke T, Moisio KC. Knee Flexion and Daily Activities in Patients following Total Knee Replacement
- Wu Z, Wang Y, Li C, Li J, Chen W, Ye Z, Zeng Z, Hong K, Zhu Y, Jiang T, Lu Y, Liu W, Xu X. Preoperative Strength Training for Clinical Outcomes Before and After Total Knee Arthroplasty