Written by: Anne Marie Fogarty, RGN

Self-Help After Knee Replacement Surgery

If you have a damaged, worn, or diseased knee joint, you may undergo or have undergone knee replacement surgery. This surgery helps to relieve knee pain while increasing your joint’s mobility.

However, many individuals don’t know how to support their recovery after knee joint replacement. This blog tells you the best exercises and self-help tips to follow after knee replacement to achieve a quick recovery.


What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery, often known as knee arthroplasty, replaces your degenerated joint using artificial implants or prosthetics.

Your knee joint becomes painful and stiff once its articular cartilage gets destroyed or worn by the previous pathology. The latter makes your bones rub and compress together instead of sliding over the bony ends, which causes knee pain. When a prosthesis replaces your faulty joint, you tend to feel less pain and move your knee freely.


Which Conditions Lead to Knee Replacement Surgery?

These are three common causes:


Osteoarthritis is due to the normal wear and tear of your knee joint. This age-related disorder usually targets individuals over 50 years. But in rare cases, younger people also have it.

Osteoarthritis tends to provoke breakdown and inflammation of your knee joint, eventually resulting in cartilage loss. When your joint has run out of cartilage, your bones start to squeeze together and grow thicker. The latter instigate friction between your bones which produces painful knee movements.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the membrane around your knee joint thickens and becomes inflamed. It also leads to worn cartilage, which predisposes your knee joint to tenderness and stiffness.

Post-traumatic Arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis happens when you go through a severe knee injury. It can be due to a fracture of bones or a tear of ligaments surrounding your knee that disrupts your joint cartilage.


5 Exercises to Follow After Knee Replacement Surgery

Practice these exercises regularly if you want to restore your knee joint strength and mobility after replacement surgery. Always follow medical advice for your specific situation.

Static Quads

⦁ Take a rolled towel and place it below your knee while lying down on a bed or mattress
⦁ Press your knee on the rolled towel until it’s straightened
⦁ Hold the position for 15 seconds
⦁ Perform ten repetitions of this exercise twice daily

Straight Leg Raise

⦁ Straighten your knee while resting on the bed or mattress
⦁ Raise your lower limb off the surface without bending your knee
⦁ Hold the position for 10 seconds before moving it down
⦁ Perform ten repetitions of this exercise twice daily

Ankle Pumps

⦁ Straighten your leg while lying down on a soft surface
⦁ Bend your foot upwards and downwards in a rhythmic motion by contracting your shin and calf muscles
⦁ Perform 15 repetitions of this exercise thrice daily

Knee Bending

⦁ Lie down on the bed and bend your knee towards your hips while fixing your heel on the surface
⦁ Try to bend your knee at maximum
⦁ Hold this position for 10 seconds before straightening your leg
⦁ Perform ten repetitions of this exercise twice daily

Adductor Squeeze

⦁ Practice this exercise once you’ve achieved pain-free knee bending
⦁ Bend your knee while resting your foot on the surface
⦁ Take rolled towel or rubber ball and place it between both knees
⦁ Squeeze the towel to put your knee together
⦁ Hold the position for 5 seconds before releasing it
⦁ Perform five repetitions of this exercise twice daily

For the full range of knee replacement exercises take a look at our knee replacement exercises leaflet. 


5 Self-Help Tips to Get Quick Recovery After Knee Joint Replacement

Follow these self-help tips to get your knee back in shape after replacement surgery:

1. Keep your knee straight for as long as possible after the surgical procedure
2. Try to use a wheelchair or crutches for ambulation purposes
3. Wear your knee brace to stabilise your joint for a faster recovery
4. Perform your exercises daily
5. Always seek medical/physio advice


The Bottom Line

Getting knee joint replacement surgery is relatively common in individuals between the ages of 50 and 80. Additionally, replacement surgery works successfully in 90% of the cases. However, to recover quickly after a surgical procedure, you should follow the exercises above/as advised by your physiotherapist and/or doctor and embrace these self-help tips to get back on your feet.

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