While gearing up for a major joint repair surgery, such as a total knee replacement, our focus understandably tends to turn toward anticipation of what will happen after surgery. However, some small clinical studies and the experience of physical therapists are beginning to point toward the benefits of regular exercise and a physical therapy regimen even in the months leading up to your joint surgery.
Why Does ‘Pre-hab’ Help?
Arthritis leads to a host of physical side-effects can have a considerable impact on overall fitness. For example, chronic pain can prompt arthritis patients to adopt a sedentary lifestyle, resulting in decreased muscle tone, low energy, poor balance, and higher body fat. All of these factors can also exacerbate general stiffness and actually end up increasing pain levels.
While a total knee replacement or other major joint surgery can certainly target the chronic arthritic pain in a particular joint, it cannot reverse the above-listed side effects. Patients who undergo a surgical procedure involving their joints may very well need good balance, energy, and muscle tone in order to manage their recovery. If they come into the surgery having undergone a pre-hab regimen with a physical therapist, they can approach their recovery rehab routine from a better starting point.
What Are Some Good Prehab Practices?
The exercises that can help an arthritis patient prepare for a surgical procedure, especially to the knee, are quite simple. We recommend the following three foundational exercises:
- Squats: repeat 15-20 times. These can be as shallow as necessary to keep them within a pain-free range of motion)
- Bridges: lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor; then raise your hips while squeeze the glutes).
- Step-ups: repeat 15-20 times per leg. Step onto a raised surface, then step down again. Choose a surface low enough that it doesn’t cause pain in your joints).
Of course, while these basic exercises can be very helpful, we strongly encourage you to come speak to Dr. Scott and our caring staff at Orthopedic Specialty Clinic before undertaking them on your own. By consulting with us, you can determine what is the best course of exercise and therapy for you before undergoing a major surgery. Contact us today!