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How to recover your range of motion after surgery?

Main causes of loss of mobility after surgery

After surgery your knee will have little mobility due to normal physiological reactions that occur after surgery;

  • The pain limits the knee function immediately after surgery.
  • Inflammation leads to swelling in the joint.
  • Soft tissue retraction (muscles, tendons, ligaments etc.) causes stiffness.

The 3 treatment phases

In order to regain your knee mobility as soon as possible, the treatment is divided into 3 main phases. Each phase consists of some exercises and movements you should be doing, to aid your recovery. The advice in phase 1, should still be implicated during phase 3, it adds up.

First phase 2-3 weeks (Goal: 70-90 degrees flexion)

  • Every hour stand up and try to walk (with or without crutches).
  • While lying on the bed, try to have a straight knee line by putting a cushion under the ankle and not under the knee while lying on the bed.
  • Move the ankle and toes in different directions (circular shapes, towards and away from your body).
  • Flex and extend the knee while sitting, resting on the bed or while standing.

Second phase 3-6 weeks (90-110 degrees flexion)

  • Continue walking and ascend and descend stairs more frequently with respect to the pain level.
  • Pick up objects from the ground.

Third phase > 6 weeks (100-120 degrees flexion)

  • Bend your knee as far as you can, but do not overexert.
  • Return to daily activities and stay active by enjoying activities or hobbies again with the intend to regain better kneeling function, in respect to the pain threshold.
  • Pay attention to your weight (avoid overweight/obese levels).

All exercises should be done with respect to your pain threshold

The importance of staying active

The evolution of a knee recovery varies greatly from one person to another and many factors such as surgical technique and the volume of swelling can influence it. Perseverance with the exercise programme and staying active during your daily life activities and hobbies will result in less swelling, a better level of pain and increased functionality. If you stick to the moveUP program you will get an optimal recovery without overexertion.

Updated on March 14, 2024

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