Total Knee Replacement

If your knee is severely damaged by arthritis or injury, it may be hard for you to perform simple activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. You may even begin to feel pain while you are sitting or lying down.

If nonsurgical treatments like medications and using walking supports are no longer helpful, you may want to consider total knee replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and help you resume normal activities.

Knee replacement surgery was first performed in 1968. Since then, improvements in surgical materials and techniques have greatly increased its effectiveness. Total knee replacements are one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States.

Whether you have just begun exploring treatment options or have already decided to have total knee replacement surgery, this article will help you understand more about this valuable procedure.

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Physical Therapist's Guide to Total Knee Replacement (Arthroplasty)

The knee is the most commonly replaced joint in the body. The decision to have knee replacement surgery is one that you should make in consultation with your orthopedic surgeon and your physical therapist. Usually, total knee replacement (TKR) surgery is performed when people have:

  • Knee joint damage due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, other bone diseases, or fracture
  • Knee pain or alignment problems in the leg that cause difficulty with walking, performing daily activities, or life tasks

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How can a physical therapist help?

Before Your Surgery ("Pre-op Conditioning"): Precautions and home adaptations, such as removing loose rugs or strategically placing a chair so that you can sit instead of squatting to get something out of a low cabinet

Immediately Following Your Surgery: Show you how to practice walking with a walker or crutches, teach you how to safely get in and out of bed or a chair, help you continue to do the flexibility and strengthening exercises that you learned before your surgery

As You Begin to Recover: Range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises, body awareness and balance training, functional training, activity-specific training

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