Orthopedic rehab is necessary after knee surgery so your knee can heal properly. You might attend therapy sessions for several weeks and also do the exercises at home once you've learned the proper techniques. In some cases, a short stay in a rehab center might be necessary if you can't manage self-care at home. Here are some ways physical therapy will help after your knee surgery.
Help You Adjust to Crutches
You'll probably wear a knee brace after surgery, and you might need to use crutches or some other device so you can avoid bearing weight on your knee. A physical therapist helps ensure that you maintain a proper gait during this phase. This might include shoe inserts for the foot on your good leg to help compensate for imbalance when you walk. You'll also be monitored to make sure compensations in your gait don't lead to stress and injury on your good knee. During this time, you won't be able to stress the knee; however, you'll gradually build up to bearing more weight as the weeks pass.
Administer Passive Exercises
The first exercises you do will probably be passive. This means the therapist will move your leg for you so you don't strain the knee. Passive exercises maintain range of motion and break up scar tissue that might be forming. You might then advance to exercises that rely on gravity to stretch your leg and knee. Within a few weeks, you may be ready to begin strengthening exercises on your knee.
Teach Muscle-Building and Stretching Exercises
Once your recovery is underway, the physical therapist will add other exercises to your routine. These involve stretches and muscle-strengthening exercises. The exercises might be done passively, either with the help of a machine or on your own. As your knee gets stronger, you'll need to wear the brace less often until you can eliminate it and bear all your weight on your knee.
Learning the exercise routines and the proper way to do them is important so you can work on your exercises at home on your own. You may do heel raises, leg raises, knee bends, and other exercises that work your upper and lower legs so your body is back in proper balance after surgery and your risk of another injury is lowered. Depending on the type of knee surgery you have, it might take several months to fully heal.
Although the recovery process might be long and involved, it's usually worth it when you can move your knee freely again without it locking up or causing pain. When your knee has recovered from the procedure with the help of rehab, you should be able to enjoy an active life again without always being on the sideline due to pain and poor mobility.