Here at Change Sports Physical Therapy in Huntington Beach, CA we know the decision to get a total knee replacement is a big decision. Consequently, there can be a lot of fear and worry about the whole process. The decision of which surgeon to do the knee replacement surgery is probably the most important one. The skill of the surgeon will determine a lot about your outcome. After the decision of the surgeon, we believe the second more important decision is where to do your knee replacement therapy. Choosing a physical therapist near you which has the experience to guide you through this process is an impacting decision.
Knee Replacement Therapy in Huntington Beach, CA
We have helped many patients over the years in their rehabilitation from total knee replacement surgery. We take every patient here at Change Sports Physical Therapy through a recovery roadmap process. This process involves progressing patients through four phases of recovery. Each phase has a specific focus, along with specific goals to meet in those phases.
Four Phases of Recovery from Total Knee Replacement
Here are the four phases of recovery that we walk each patient through.
Knee Replacement Therapy Calming Phase
In this phase our main goal is to calm things down. This involves reducing swelling, protecting the incision from infection, introducing some motion to help with swelling and activating the muscles to begin restoring normal activity in them. Most of the time patients will be in this phase of their recovery before they reach our clinic. Patients will often have a home physical therapist come to their home for a week or two after surgery. The main goals in this phase involve getting that swelling down, protecting the surgery and beginning to gain some mobility.
Knee Replacement Therapy Mobility Phase
Most of the time when patients reach our clinic they are near or already at this phase of their knee replacement therapy. The primary goal in this phase is to regain the mobility in the knee. Of course we are interested in strength, however we believe that the primary emphasis in this phase should be motion. Our focus on motion is more than just the simple ability for the knee to bend and extend. Our focus on motion also is on the ability to control and use that motion in everyday activities. The ability to squat, balance, walk and lunge are functional motions which will be needed in everyday life. Gaining the ability to go through these motions is the main focus in this phase.
Motion Goals: The range of motion (ROM) goals after knee replacement are typically to reach 120-125 degrees of flexion and have full extension at 0 degrees. How easy is it to get there? To be honest, this varies a lot by patient. The amount of motion the patient had before surgery really affects the ease of this task. The quality of the surgery really affects this task. The motivation of the patient to move the knee and do their home exercise program also plays a huge role in this task.
Some ways to gain mobility in this phase
There is no substitute for quality hands on care for knee replacement therapy. We focus on reducing swelling, breaking down scar tissue, gaining mobility and activating the muscles with manual therapy. We have different tools that we use with patients to help achieve these purposes. Percussion guns, cupping and soft tissue scrappers are some of the main tools we can use to help with this process. If this sounds intense, don’t worry! We always cater to the desires of the patient. We will not push harder than the patient is willing to go. There can be some discomfort with gaining mobility, but there are ways to reduce that discomfort as well.
This is the main piece of equipment which sets us apart from any other physical therapy clinic in the area. We have the only Hydroworx EVO underwater treadmill in California (as of the writing of this post). This is an amazing piece of equipment which allows for some great benefits at this stage in knee replacement therapy.
Swelling Reduction: The water creates pressure around the knee, which when combined with motion will help push out swelling
Early Walking: The water till take away the loading effect of gravity on the knee. With the treadmill in the water, this allows us to being some walking very early on in the recovery process. Patients can begin to work on their gait patterns to get those restored quicker.
Balance Training: The safety of not being able to fall to the ground will allow patients to test the limits of balance in ways they would not be able to on land.
Functional De-Weighted Training: We can begin working on patterns of movement, like squats and lunges, much earlier than would be possible on land.
Knee Replacement Therapy Strengthening Phase
In this phase of recovery the focus shifts from gaining mobility to gaining strength and endurance. Once we have the right motion and movement patterns, we can then load the body to help build strength and endurance. This phase has more of a focus on functional exercises, resistance exercises and overall increase in cardiovascular fitness.
Knee Replacement Therapy Return to Play Phase
This is the final phase of recovering from the total knee replacement. In this phase of recovery we help guide you as you ease back into the life activities and hobbies you want to get back to. This is what you have been waiting for! Some patients simply want to walk around while shopping without pain. For some, their goals are to return to the pickle ball court. Whatever your goals are, we will help develop exercises specific for you, as well as give you guidance on how to ease back into those activities.
If you are searching for a physical therapy clinic near Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Westminster or within the area, we’d love to help you along your journey. You can schedule an initial evaluation to get started on your recovery.