Joint replacement surgery is one of the most commonly performed major operations in Australia, with over 70 000 hip and knee replacements undertaken each year (Tomkins, 2012). The rate of joint replacement surgery has been increasing rapidly for many years, and this trend is anticipated to continue as the Australian population ages. As rehabilitation following joint replacement surgery is critical to ensuring optimal joint function and improving quality of life it is essential for you to understand this process to ensure the best recovery possible.
After your joint replacement surgery your physiotherapist will develop a rehabilitation program comprising a number of different components. While older styles of rehabilitation have often focussed on vigorous passive stretch programs that can exacerbate pain and swelling at times, more recently with advances in understanding of fascial lengthening techniques, range gains can be achieved quickly with more comfort resulting in better functional outcomes long term. Once pain is treated and controlled, you can be taught a home program involving functional strength, stretching and self release strategies for management of your new joint long term. Just some of the treatment options available for joint surgery rehabilitation are outlined below.
Found to be particularly beneficial for hip replacements, hydrotherapy is a gentle treatment option that can assist with the recovery of muscle length and results in an improved early functional recovery.
Soft Tissue Release
Pain and immobilisation after joint replacement surgery often result in a decrease in your ability to extend muscles. Soft tissue release by a physiotherapist can assist the issue and has been found to increase flexion range particularly in the knee area. It will be important to learn self release strategies to optimise length for best outcomes long term.
Progressive resistance or strength training has been identified to make a significant improvement in muscle strength and function after joint replacement surgery.
The use of physiotherapy exercise interventions with exercises based on functional weight-bearing activities targeted at your specific needs, hobbies and lifestyle are essential to achieve the best outcomes both immediately and long term. You want to make sure you are ready to face the challenges your individual lifestyle presents to you and you need a targeted program deal with these.
If you, your friend or family are having joint replacement surgery and would like to know more about the treatment options available for rehabilitation, please do not hesitate to contact us on 07 3847 8040.
Tomkins, A. (2012). Australian Orthopaedic Association: National Joint Replacement Registry.