This should screen for those patients struggling to get their knee moving and check that post-operative exercises are being performed regularly and that they are appropriate for your stage of healing.
Physiotherapy that involves deep tissue massage, joint mobilsation and passive stretches etc will definitely assist you in getting your knee to flex (bend) and extend (straighten). Sometimes 2 sessions per week for a few weeks is appropriate whilst patients doing well often need exercise advice only. It is not as simple as walking for a while then getting on the exercise bike! You must work at it! The complete recovery guide from hospital discharge to 6 months post-operative is available at www.recoveryguides.com.au
Common causes of being unable to straighten knee:
1. Tight calf and hamstring muscles - see you physio for some hands-on treatment
2. Inadequate pain relief - particularly whilst doing home exercises
3. Early post-operative phase - alot of healing is happening so go easy!
4. Excessive swelling - Remember to elevate and Ice if necessary
5. Tight joint capsule - often due to insufficient stretching and mobilising at home
STANDING CALF STRETCH
This calf stretch is performed on the edge of a small step (or telephone books as shown). Place the front of your foot on the edge of the step and your heel on the ground. Straighten your knee as much as possible and push your hips forward. You should feel your calf stretch. Hold this for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat twice. This may be performed often throughout the day to assist in improving your knee extension. Please note: this particular stretch is usually performed after 3-4 weeks. Prior to this a seated calf stretch can be performed. There are other techniques you can utilize to get your knee to extend - so stay tuned I'll update you soon.
Please see the Total Knee Replacement Recovery Guide at www.recoveryguides.com.au for more information.
Physiotherapist & Exercise Physiologist
Co-author Recovery Guides Series.