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Starting Outpatient Rehab Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

By Chad Evans PT

Starting Outpatient Rehab Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

As a physical therapist I have noticed a steady increase in the number of patients needing rehab following joint replacements. This influx is due in large part from the increasing number of baby boomers needing orthopedic care. With the advancements in surgical care many of these people are electing to have total knee arthroplasties to improve their ability to walk, perform daily activities, and get back to living their lives without the pain of arthritis.

Typically a joint replacement patient will have surgery and spend the first few nights in the hospital. After this they are sent home (or in some cases to an inpatient rehab facility) where a physical therapist will treat them to improve their ability to perform basic daily activities, such as walking, getting dressed and bathing. For most patients this is about a two week process. By the third week patients are usually able to walk well enough to leave their house and show up in our outpatient clinics.

The purpose of outpatient physical therapy is to improve knee range of motion, strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. All of which are required to safely perform normal daily activities. The first appointment allows the therapist to gain knowledge on the patient history regarding their knee and any other health related conditions that may affect their rehab. Typically this first visit will last between 45 minutes to an hour. During this time the therapist will need to see your knee so wearing appropriate clothing is critical. (Shorts or lose fitting pants that can slide up your leg should be fine) This allows the therapist to properly examine your incision site and check for swelling, and muscle tone. It will also allow for bending or straightening of your knee as this is usually something that patients need help with following surgery.

Knee stiffness and pain are normal following any joint replacement. Needless to say, this can cause some apprehension for most, but don’t let this prevent you from getting started. The quicker you get going with the appropriate exercises the quicker you will return to normal function. The rehab team at JOI is here to help you each step of the way.  For an appointment call 904-858-7045


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