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The Dos and Don’ts of Rehab After Knee Surgery

Getting your knee back in shape after surgery is just as important as the surgery itself. Proper rehabilitation is the key to not only a successful recovery but also to ensuring your knee works well for years to come.

Just like a well-oiled machine performs better, a well-rehabbed knee supports a more active and enjoyable lifestyle.

At Clearcut Physiotherapy Clinics in London, we deal with rehab of various types of knee surgeries, such as knee replacement surgeries, ACL reconstructions or repairs, or meniscus repairs.

Each procedure demands a unique rehab approach. In this article, we’ll share some of the common dos and don’ts for rehabbing your knee after surgery.

General Principles of Knee Surgery Rehab

When it comes to getting back on your feet after knee surgery, there are some golden rules that everyone should follow, regardless of the type of surgery.

First up, always stick to the advice your medical team gives you—they know what’s best for your knee.

Listening to your body is crucial; it tells you when to push and when to pause. Managing pain smartly means you heal faster and more comfortably. If your surgeon or physiotherapist suggests using crutches or a knee brace, it’s for a good reason—they help your knee heal without taking on too much, too soon.

And don’t forget about your footwear; the right shoes can make a big difference in how your knee recovers.

5 Things You Should Do After Knee Surgery

Here’s the list of things that aid your recovery post knee surgery:

1.   Gradual Weight-Bearing

Your knee has to learn to walk before it can run again. Gradually putting weight on your knee is crucial. Your physiotherapist will guide you on when and how much weight your knee can handle.

Starting with crutches or a walker isn’t a step back; it’s a smart way to give your knee the time it needs to heal properly. Jumping the gun and putting too much weight on your knee too soon can set back your recovery, so take it step by step, just as your physiotherapist advises.

2.   Continuous Motion Exercise

Keeping your knee moving after surgery might sound a bit odd, but it’s all about balancing movement with rest. If your healthcare team suggests moving your knee a little bit immediately or a few days after surgery, it may be because that may prevent stiffness and scar tissue.

You can use a continuous motion machine while you’re at the hospital, or simply move it yourself or with your hands at home.

3.   Bracing and Support

Think of braces or supports as your knee’s new best friend after surgery. They give your knee the stability it needs while it heals. Using these supports correctly ensures that your knee stays in the right position, helping the healing process and preventing any unwanted twists or turns that might hinder your recovery.

4.   Controlled Exercise

Not all exercises are created equal, especially after knee surgery. That’s why focusing on specific, controlled exercises is key.

These aren’t your average gym routines; they’re designed to strengthen your knee without putting the repair at risk. Your physiotherapist will know exactly which exercises will benefit your knee the most. They’ll guide you through each step to ensure your knee gets stronger the right way.

5.   Aquatic Therapy

Water isn’t just for swimming. It’s also fantastic for knee rehab! When you’re in the water, your knee doesn’t have to bear all your weight because of buoyancy, which means less stress and pain.

At the same time, the water’s resistance is a gentle way to build muscle strength around your knee. It’s like having a workout that’s both effective and gentle, making aquatic therapy a top choice for getting your knee back in action.

5 Things to Avoid After Knee Surgery

Here’s the list of things that you should not do while recovering after knee surgery:

1.   Certain Movements

After knee surgery, some actions could do more harm than good. Deep squatting is a big no-no – it puts way too much pressure on your joint, which may not be ready for such stress.

Lunges, too many stairs, twisting (even without putting weight on it) and kneeling on the operated knee are activities you should avoid until you get the green light from your physiotherapist.

2.   Ignoring Pain Signals

Pain is your body’s way of saying, “Hold on a minute, something’s not right here!” If exercising makes your knee shout out (intense pain), it’s time to pause and reassess. Pushing through pain isn’t brave; it’s risky. It could mess up your recovery or even hint at a problem that needs your doctor’s attention.

3.   Rushing the Process

We all want to get back to our usual active selves quickly, but patience is key after knee surgery. Jumping back into high-impact activities or excessive walking (very usual for Londoners) too soon can unsettle your knee’s healing process. That may raise the chances of another injury. Your knee needs time to regain its strength and stability, so don’t rush it.

4.   Neglecting Muscle Strengthening

Post-surgery rehab isn’t just about the knee. Your whole leg needs to get stronger to support your knee properly. If you only focus on the knee, you may ignore a big important part of your recovery. Strengthening the muscles around your knee helps share the load, taking the pressure off the joint.

5.   Ignoring Compression and Elevation

Swelling is a common guest after surgery, but don’t let it overstay its welcome. Using compression and keeping your knee elevated can say ‘goodbye’ to swelling faster. It’s an easy fix that can make a big difference in your comfort and healing.

Bonus tip: Skipping Follow-Up Appointments

Those check-ups with your doctor or physiotherapist aren’t just for a friendly chat. They’re crucial for tracking your progress, making sure everything is healing as it should, and catching any hiccups early. Skipping them could mean missing out on essential tweaks to your recovery plan or not spotting a problem until it’s a bigger deal.

Uncommon But Crucial Tips

Your road to recovery after knee surgery is greatly influenced by your exercises and check-ups. But there are some less obvious influences as well that you should be mindful of.

Your diet can be a game-changer. Eating the right foods can help your body heal faster – think of food as your body’s repair kit.

And don’t forget to drink plenty of water; staying hydrated helps keep everything in your body running smoothly, including the healing process.

Your surroundings matter too. Making little changes in your home to avoid trips and falls can protect your knee when it’s at its most vulnerable.

Have you heard of prehab? It’s rehab for your knee before surgery, making your muscles stronger and ready for the journey ahead.

Getting enough sleep and keeping your spirits up are just as important. A good night’s sleep gives your body time to heal, and a positive mindset can boost your recovery.

And remember, your journey is your own – comparing it to others’ can be disheartening. Focus on your progress, no matter how small it may seem.

Building a rehab routine that sticks isn’t just about what exercises you do; it’s about fitting them into your life in a way that feels right for you. Set goals that make sense for your day-to-day life and keep track of your progress to see how far you’ve come – it can be a real motivator!

Making your rehab a regular part of your routine means you’re more likely to stick with it. And consistency is key to getting your knee back in shape. Tailor your exercises to fit your interests and lifestyle – if you love being outdoors, find ways to incorporate that into your rehab.

And always celebrate the small victories; they add up to big successes.

Your Next Steps

Sticking to your rehab plan isn’t just about following orders; it’s about giving your knee the best shot at a strong comeback. You don’t just want to get back on your feet, you want a future where you can walk, run, or dance the way you want to.

If you’re ready to rehab your knee the right way or just want to learn more, book an appointment with our physiotherapy clinics in Eltham, Battersea or Norbury.