When you have knee or hip replacement surgery, your doctor will suggest you do rehab afterward. This regular exercise program helps you recover from your operation.
If you were in a lot of pain before surgery, chances are you didn't do a lot of walking. That means your joint and your leg muscles may already be weak. Building up strength in the muscles around your new joint will help you get back to your normal activities.
Benefits of Rehab
After joint surgery, rehab is an important step to help you get the most from your new joint. It can:
- Restore normal movement in your joint
- Build up strength in the joint and surrounding muscles
- Ease pain and swelling
- Let you get back to your normal activities
- Help with circulation, particularly right after surgery, so you don't have problems with blood clots
Types of Rehab
Your doctor will probably refer you to a physical therapist. The therapist may come to your home to work with you during scheduled visits. She may give you range of motion exercises to work on between visits.
You may also visit a physical therapy center to continue your rehab. Here you can work with a therapist as well as do exercises on your own.
Some rehab can also be informal -- exercises and movement you do by yourself. For example, when you have hip replacement surgery, every time you sit down and stand up you're working on your joint's range of motion. This is can keep the muscles around the joint strong long after surgery.
Rehab Right After Surgery
If you’ve just had surgery, your doctor will have you start moving your joint very soon. If you're not in too much pain, you may actually start moving the day of. You will start by sitting up on the edge of the bed, and maybe standing and walking a few steps with some help.
You’ll work with a physical therapist on some simple exercises, such as pumping your ankles or tensing and relaxing your thighs.
During your hospital stay, you’ll get up and walk around with the help of crutches or a walker. You'll continue your early exercises and may be given a few more.
Rehab Once You Get Home
You'll gradually add more strengthening exercises as you build up your endurance. You should exercise 20-30 minutes two or three times every day -- or as much as your doctor suggests. Walking several times a day may also help. Start with only 5 minutes and work your way up to 20-30 minutes several times a day. Use a cane if you need it.
Whether you work with a therapist or on your own, you should continue to stay as active as possible for your overall health. You have that new joint -- you want to keep it in good shape.