What to know before having A Joint Replacement
Physical Therapy Before Surgery
By the time you decide to get a joint replacement you may have had physical therapy to treat your joint pain, but did you know that there is significant benefit to getting physical therapy before going under the knife. Physical therapy specifically focusing on strengthening and minimizing recovery time before having surgery, is called prehabilitation. Before having a joint replaced it is important to be as strong and flexible as possible before surgery. Balance and functional activity tolerance exercises can help you to avoid falls and other issues during your recovery. Most importantly, your physical therapist will provide you with the specific education required to optimize your recovery such as home setup and exactly what to expect.
After you get out of the hospital
Most of the time, having a joint replacement will result in a short hospital stay. Once you are ready to leave the hospital there are several options depending on your functional independence, insurance coverage, and personal support network. Some may go right home and begin outpatient therapy while others may go home and begin therapy within the home. Those who are unable to go home right away may qualify for a stay in acute or subacute rehabilitation. To qualify for acute rehabilitation, you must be able to tolerate 3 hours of multidisciplinary therapy a day at least 5 times per week. Typically, a stay in acute rehabilitation is shorter than subacute rehabilitation. Subacute rehabilitation is often located within a skilled nursing facility and is considered less intense when compared to acute rehab. No matter where you go after your joint replacement, you should be under the care of a licensed physical therapist to make sure you optimize your potential.
It is important to know what to expect after your joint replacement surgery. Your recovery will take hard work and consistency from all parties involved. Expect to have some manageable pain, weakness and decreased range of motion in the joint that has been replaced. This is normal and will be addressed by your physical therapist. There are multiple factors that will affect your outcome including co-morbidities or medical conditions you may have, your previous level of fitness, how badly the joint was damaged, and the amount of time you have had the issue. Your surgeon and rehabilitation team will give you a specific plan for your recovery after surgery. Driving can take place in as little as 4 weeks and you may return to work even sooner depending on your occupation. It is important to remember that every surgery has risks and good outcomes are not guaranteed. For the best outcome possible, stay active in your own care, stay consistent with your routine and contact your physical therapist for a rehabilitation plan.