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Tips For Getting The Most From Your Physical Therapy After Knee Surgery

Once the surgical repair of the torn cartilage in your knee has been completed, a successful recovery depends on how well the physical therapy goes. Your physical therapy will last several months. How effective it is depends on how well you tolerate it and follow the instructions of your doctor and physical therapist. Here are some ways to make sure you're getting the most from your exercise sessions and speed along your recovery.

Manage Your Medications Closely

Your doctor will send you home with one or more prescriptions for pain medication. Follow the recommended schedule and take the medicine, even when you aren't feeling any pain in the moment. If you wait until the pain is severe, the medicine won't be as effective. Maintaining a low level of the medicine in your system will help you control the pain better.

It's also important that you time your pain medication so it is taking effect during your physical therapy sessions. If you're not managing your pain medication properly, you can have severe pain and discomfort during and after a session. This might make you skip your home exercises or your next physical therapy session, which will slow down your recovery process.

Maintain a Steady Pace

Your physical therapist will help you set a pace which allows slow and incremental progress without pushing your knee beyond what it is capable of doing. Stick to that pace and never overwork your knee. Later in your recovery, you will start to feel good and be tempted to do more than you should with your knee. You could re-injure your knee and set back your recovery time.

Consider Alternative Pain Relief

If you are still having pain and discomfort weeks into your recovery, you may become anxious and less likely to make good progress with your physical therapy. Your anticipation of the pain can make you hold back on your exercises. Ask your doctor about incorporating some of the following ways to make the therapy less painful.

  • Acupuncture - Some people respond well to this Chinese medicine technique of controlling pain. Tiny needles are inserted under the skin in key areas of the body. This increases circulation in the knee, which reduces pain and swelling. It also causes the body to release natural pain relief hormones called endorphins.
  • Hydrotherapy - Your physical therapist can have you do exercises while you or your leg are submerged in water. The water supports the weight of your leg as you exercise. The warm water also increases circulation and reduces inflammation.
  • Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS) - This device sends a small electrical current into the tissues in and around your knee to cut off the pain signals sent to your brain. Without those signals getting to the brain, you'll have no pain. Consider having a TENS session immediately before physical therapy to make those exercises go smoother.

For more information, contact Advance Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation or a similar organization.