Joint replacement surgery can help you become more mobile and live a more independent life, but it’s not just the implantation of an artificial joint alone that yields these results. You need to put in the work during your recovery in order to make the biggest functional gains, and the best way to do that is through an individualized physical therapy routine. In today’s blog, we explain why physical therapy is so important to helping you thrive following a knee or hip replacement procedure.
The Importance Of PT After Joint Replacement
The surgery itself is the first step in the process of reducing pain and becoming more mobile, but the artificial joint can only do so much. Simply having a new joint put in your body won’t make the area function normally. That area is going to need continued attention and regular strengthening to get to a place where it can comfortably endure normal stress and range of motion, and the best way to do that is with controlled physical therapy. Here’s why:
- Load Management – The artificial joint and the surrounding tissues are going to be in a delicate position in the days and weeks after surgery as they work to recover from the trauma of the operation. A physical therapist will help to move the areas and slowly strengthen certain muscle groups without overloading the area and causing a setback.
- Stabilization – The muscles and soft tissues that help to hold the new joint in place will be weak after an operation, and you’ll need to build these muscles to stabilize the artificial joint. An unstable joint can dislocate more easily or limit what you’re comfortable doing, but you can work to stabilize the new joint through a controlled physical therapy program.
- Pain Control – Even when they are performed using minimally invasive techniques, having a joint replaced will be a painful process. Your surgeon will help to control this discomfort with pain medications during your rehab, but physical therapy also helps to work to naturally reduce pain. Your physical therapy can provide you with some exercises or movement techniques to help reduce pain and prevent it from becoming an obstacle to your recovery.
- Increased Flexibility – Although artificial joints are designed to mimic the movements of a healthy joint, you’re not going to be able to have a large range of motion with the joint right after surgery. You’ll slowly work to expand your range of motion through physical therapy exercises so that you can perform more maneuvers and be comfortable moving your new knee or joint in different directions. Flexibility is limited unless you specifically work to expand it.
- Other Joint Health – Improving the strength and function of your artificial joint will inherently take stress off other areas of your body. For example, if knee or hip pain on your right side was causing you to limp, odds are your left hip and left knee are bearing more stress, and that can cause them to wear down faster. If you work to correct these imbalances and ensure normal function in your new joint, it will be able to handle more stress, which takes pressure off other areas. You can help slow down joint degeneration in other areas by strengthening your artificial joint with the help of physical therapy.
If you’d like to learn more about how physical therapy can help following a knee or hip replacement procedure, or to connect with a PT for a different issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (952) 922-0330.