Have you been told that you need a knee replacement in the very near future?
By now you may have had knee pain for a very long time due to knee osteoarthritis (OA) or a previous knee injury.
Do you know why you need a knee replacement and what it means?
Let me explain what knee OA is and how it affects your knee. Knee ware and tare is more common with age, and it makes a lot of sense because of the amount of activity it has been through all its life! Generally, knee OA occurs due to a loss of amount of cartilage. The cartilage is responsible for absorbing shock through the knees as you move, so there is no wonder that you will have discomfort and inflammation.
The reason for your knee replacement is to remove the diseased cartilage and replace the joint to restore normal knee movement with no pain. There are several ways to manage the knee pain while waiting for your knee replacement – we call this ‘prehabilitation’.
- Have you tried to manage your weight to reduce load on your knees?
Aim to keep your BMI below 30 – this will help reduce pressure on the knees and reduce inflammation. Studies show that decreasing you weight by one kilogram can reduce the load on your knee joint by 1.81 kg. Losing some weight may help to reduce your stay in the hospital post-surgery too!
- How tight are your calf, hamstrings and quads?
When the muscles supporting the knee joint become tight, our body starts to load differently as the force placed through the muscles are altered with movement. As a result, we may start moving differently. It is important to keep these supporting muscles mobile to allow the knees to mechanically move in the most efficient way possible. Improved mobility will allow for improved function post-surgery too!
- Are you currently doing any strength training for your knees?
By engaging in resistance strength exercise, you will prepare your body for optimal strength post-surgery. Practice specific exercises to assist with activities of daily living, especially to load muscles of the thigh, calf, hamstrings and hips. A progressive strength program can be completed 3 non-consecutive days a week Learning to use mobility aids and strategies to climb up and down the stairs or getting up and down from a chair will also help improve your function post-surgery.
- What are you doing to manage the knee inflammation?
Less pain, more gain! If your knees are feeling a little warm and look swollen, icing your knees to prevent further inflammation and reduce swelling (but no longer than 20 minutes at a time!). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication when needed is also helpful, along with Voltaren gel for short term relief.
- Are your gluteal muscles firing?
In other words, are your buttock muscles activated and taking you through your strides efficiently, so that your knees aren’t taking on all the load? The glutes help us to push our hips forward when we walk, or helps the thigh do the work when you get up from a chair, so when there is knee pain, you may start to move differently to take load off the knees. Having a strong buttock support will help prevent overcompensation, further deconditioning and support knee stability.
Exercise prehabilitation for knee strength and mobility has proven to improve patient outcomes and function post knee surgery.
At Exercise For Life, our exercise physiologists will work with you and your knees to develop a program that will encourage re-training of the neuromuscular system, increase muscle mass and strength to help you load more efficiently, and regain confidence and trust in your knees again.
Visit our website or call to speak to one of our exercise physiologists today about how you can get started. There is never a better time!
Phone: (08) 9371 8563