The Secret to a Successful Recovery After Knee Arthroplasty Surgery

The Secret to a Successful Recovery After Knee Arthroplasty Surgery
March 24 00:01 2015 Print This Article

Knee Arthroplasty SurgeryBy Wanda Marie Thibodeaux


Recovery after knee replacement surgery–also known as knee arthroplasty–isn’t a quick road, taking many months for most patients. Standard recommendations you’ll likely receive following the procedure include elevating and staying off of the reconstructed knee, applying ice, keeping your dressing clean and dry and taking any prescribed painkillers and antibiotics exactly as instructed. These are all excellent pieces of medically sound advice, but the real secret to a successful recovery isn’t in any of them–it’s in exercise.

Why Is Exercise So Critical After Knee Replacement?

The knee joint is one of the strongest in the human body, bearing the bulk of your weight through many of the activities you do each day. The heavier you are, the more pressure the joint has to deal with, and the harder it has to work to stabilize you. In fact, if you gain weight, every extra pound puts an additional 3 pounds of pressure on your knees. If you proactively slim down prior to your surgery (ideally with low-impact exercises), your newly reconstructed joint won’t encounter so much stress, which gives the surrounding tissues a better chance of healing properly and reduces the risk that the implant will break or shift.

Immediately following your surgery, physical therapy exercises ensure good circulation in the knee joint and leg, which promotes quick healing and reduces the risk of blood clots. Additionally, as the University of Washington Department of Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine explains, if you do not use a muscle, it can tighten or weaken. Exercise keeps the muscles loose and flexible so they can take the reconstructed knee through an unrestricted range of motion. It also ensures that the muscles remain strong enough to offer sufficient stabilization, reducing the chance of a post-surgery injury.

Knee Arthroplasty Surgery1After your knee is healed, exercise continues to benefit your new knee. As it did prior to and immediately after surgery, exercise keeps your weight reasonable so that there is less pressure on the joint, and it keeps the muscles both flexible and strong for maximum mobility and stability. But there’s another reason to get moving–exercise can improve your mood. It releases powerful endorphins or “feel good” chemicals that have been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. With these negative emotions out of the way, you might have an easier time taking care of yourself and your new knee through a healthy lifestyle.

Individualization Matters!

Each individual has slight variations in their physiology and the way their knee is shaped, meaning that your exercise plan before and after surgery needs to be customized for best results. Other factors like age, weight and general health level provide additional reasons to personalize everything in your program. If you’re not sure where to start, your knee specialist or physical therapist can provide examples of activities that should benefit you.


Exercise is the key component for a successful knee replacement recovery. It minimizes pressure on the joint by controlling weight, promotes circulation for healing, reduces blood clot risk, ensures that the muscles around the new joint are both strong and supple and provides a motivating mood boost. Check with your doctor to develop a workout or therapy program that’s ideal for you.

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About Article Author

Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan

Mike Morgan is a health enthusiast and has written several health articles for various health magazines.

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