Physical Therapy After a Joint Replacement to Get the Most from Your New Joint


Physical Therapy After a Joint Replacement to Get the Most from Your New Joint

So you finally did it — you decided you were done living in pain, and you had joint replacement surgery. Make sure you get the most from your new joint by listening to your physical therapist and participating in your rehabilitation.

Krista D. Knapke, PT, MPT, a Physical Therapist at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, says, “Physical therapy immediately after surgery helps your long-term mobility, and it ensures you are moving safely on your new joint.”

Physical Therapy in the Hospital

Getting moving is so important to your new joint, the physical therapist will visit you in the hospital on the day of your surgery.

Krista says, “Physical therapy immediately after surgery is good for mobility. PT helps to resume your mobility safely with supervision. Early mobilization also helps to prevent complications including pneumonia, blood clots and contracture of your new joint.”

The physical therapist will also help you learn to use your walker and how to navigate steps safely before you leave the hospital after surgery. The goal is to make sure you can take care of yourself at home and you understand the exercises you will need to continue for the next few months.

Physical Therapy After Discharge

When you choose to have a joint replacement, you are 80 percent responsible for the full recovery of your new joint. If you don’t follow the physical therapist’s instructions and continue your rehabilitation at home, you won’t have successful joint replacement surgery.

“As your joint range of motion and strength improve, the physical therapy team will continue to progress your exercises,” Krista says. “Our goal is to get you back to your daily activities with less pain than you had before surgery.”

Krista suggested some tips to make sure your joint replacement surgery is a success.

  • You should ice and elevate your new joint after each exercise session. You should perform your exercises, at the most, three times a day.
  • Take your pain medication an hour before each exercise session so you can tolerate all exercises.
  • Stand up and walk each hour. Start with short walks followed by rest, ice and elevation. As you get better, you should increase your walking time but take walks less frequently.
  • Start a pre-operative exercise program to increase your strength and range of motion before surgery. It will prepare you for the daily habit of exercise and improve your exercise tolerance.

The biggest tip Krista has for successful joint replacement surgery, “Follow the guidelines the Total Joint Center team gives you and don’t be impatient. You will get stronger and will be happy with your new joint and your renewed activity.”

If you are interested in learning more about the St. Elizabeth Total Joint Program call (859) 655-7400 or visit us onlineJoin us on Facebook Live October 17 as our physical therapists show you exactly what you can expect after your joint replacement and leave us your questions so that they can be answered live!