Tips for Joint Replacement Rehabilitation
Physiotherapy plays a key role in helping the more than 80,000 Canadians who have total hip and knee replacements get back on their feet each year. After joint replacement, people typically tend to be less active than their peers. However, by seeking the help of a physiotherapist, joint replacement patients can reap the benefits of physical activity after surgery including; improved fitness and mobility, better balance, lower risk of other health problems and an overall improved quality of life. BC’s physiotherapists want to share their Physio-4 for Joint Replacement, 4 tips on how to successfully recover from joint replacement surgery and keep British Columbians moving for life.
“Joint replacement surgery for people with severe knee and hip damage can relieve pain, help the knee or hip joint work better, and restore patient mobility,” says Dr. Brian Day, Medical Director of the Cambie Surgery Centre. “Physiotherapy before and after orthopaedic surgeries, including joint replacements, is crucial for a successful outcome.”
By working closely with a physiotherapist post-surgery and following these Physio-4 Tips for Joint Replacement, patients can look forward to returning to a more active lifestyle.
1. Protect your new hips and knee. Joint replacements require precautions and restrictions in movement. Based on instruction from your surgeon, your physiotherapist will advise you on activity and exercise from day 1 to maximize your function within the restrictions.
2. Increase your strength. Seek to gradually do 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, even in ten-minute bouts. Physiotherapists and surgeons recommend walking, cycling, swimming, water exercises, golf and weight training to start. With experience, you can resume skating, skiing and Pilates exercise. Your physiotherapist can provide you with an exercise program that helps regain your strength, flexibility and balance needed to safely resume these and other recreational activities.
3. Don’t stress out your new joints. Activities that are stressful on your new joints or put you at risk for injury are NOT recommended. These include high impact and contact sports like baseball, basketball, jogging, racquet sports, soccer and hockey. Your physiotherapist will advise you on the best activity and exercise options from day one to maximize your day-to-day function and overall fitness within the restrictions.
4. Following surgery, use walking aids. Do not progress off walking aids too soon as limping puts abnormal forces through your new joint and other joints in your legs and back. Work closely with your physiotherapist to find the right pace at which to increase your walking and reduce your need for walking aids.