It was only 20 years ago when a knee or hip joint replacement meant a 10-14 day stint in hospital. How times have changed.
With advances in surgical techniques, the whole operation and the recuperation experience seems to be much easier and results are normally excellent.
What happens After Joint Replacement Surgery?
Nowadays, most people are up and out of bed the day after the operation. A Physiotherapist will help you to get out of bed, teach you how to use walking aids if these are needed and give you exercises to do in hospital and when at home. Being diligent with these early exercises is vital to get things moving and limit stiffness. It is quite common for the patient to be good enough to go home after only 3 or 4 days. For some that live on their on their own, a short stay in a rehab facility may be advised by the surgeon. This will help you to gain your confidence and independence so you will be able to look after yourself properly when you go home. You won’t be allowed to drive for about 6 weeks after the joint replacement and normally have to wear lovely white knee high compression tights to reduce the risk of blood clots for about the same time. Once you are home, obviously that isn’t the end of it and you’ll need to keep exercising to have a successful outcome. Seeing a physiotherapist shortly after discharge is beneficial to check you are doing your exercises correctly and to progress you through the rehabilitation process.
Often hydrotherapy (exercise in water) is a great place to start as there is less weight bearing on the joints and it is an easy way to start exercising. Rehabilitation from a knee or hip joint replacement is quite similar with a lot of the same muscles needing to be worked. The aim in the first 6 weeks following surgery is to get the range of movement back in the leg and to lose the limp you may have had for many years. Following a knee replacement, knee bending is often the most challenging. Strengthening and balance exercises will also commence during this time. Some people progress to doing gym based rehabilitation while others manage with walking programs, exercise bikes and bed exercises. It all depends on what you need to get back to. Golf and lawn bowls can recommence usually between the 4 to 6 month mark after surgery if all has gone well. Most specialists say that it takes a good 6 – 12 months to fully rehabilitate and achieve optimal results after such a big operation.
With state of the art facilities at the Adelaide Crows we have access to the 25 metre heated indoor pool, the large fully equipped gym and even a pilates studio if needed to cover all bases with the rehab process. If you need more information, please contact the clinic on 8347 2043 for more information.
Written by Physiotherapist Mark Nagel