Leaves are changing and the cool weather is starting to set in. This is the season when people contemplate scheduling a joint replacement surgery. The two most common joint replacement surgeries are total hip arthroplasty (THA) aka a hip replacement and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) aka a knee replacement. Arthritis is a common condition that may trigger your healthcare provider to recommend a joint replacement surgery.1,2 Joint replacements are a treatment option for persisting severe joint pain, stiffness, limited mobility, and swelling after exhausting all non-surgical options including physical therapy.1 Despite joint replacement surgeries being common among the older adult population, there is still a risk of complications and recovery time that is associated with any surgery. After TKA, it usually takes around a year to return to full function, but most people resume to usual activities within 6 weeks and for a THA most people are doing well 3 months post-op and will continue to improve within the first year.1,2 Undergoing a joint replacement surgery is a big decision. In this blog, we will be discussing what you should expect before and after surgery.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, pre-habilitation aka “pre-hab” is an exercise physical therapy that is started 6 or more weeks prior to surgery.3 Pre-hab may include a combination of strength, aerobic, and flexibility exercises to improve your fitness prior to surgery.3 Studies have shown that people who participated in pre-hab for 6 weeks before surgery reduced their odds of requiring inpatient rehab by 73%.3 Patients who complete pre-hab and are in general more fit going into surgery have shorter hospital stays and need fewer outpatient rehab sessions.3 Discuss with your surgeon about your options for pre-hab.
In general, you will see physical therapy within 24 hours after your surgery. Getting up from bed and walking is important to reduce the risk of post-surgical complications such as blood clots.4 Physical therapists will educate you on any joint precautions and initiate a home exercise program. Once discharged from the hospital, you will see a physical therapist in your home or an outpatient clinic for a frequency and duration that depends on your post-surgical status, post-surgical protocol, and/or functional limitations. At your first visit, your physical therapist will assess your function, range of motion, strength, skin/scar integrity, and mobility, among other things. Then, you will create goals and a plan of care for rehab with your physical therapist.
Despite the noted benefits of pre-hab, insurance companies may not cover more than 6 weeks of rehabilitation which includes prehab and rehab depending on where you live and the type of insurance you have.3 Prior to surgery, call your insurance to ask about your specific benefits and discuss with your surgeon your options for prehab especially if your insurance does not cover it.3 At Live Your Life MN & FL, we can be an option to provide in-home insurance covered services. We also have a private pay option should your insurance not cover the necessary pre-hab and rehab services you are seeking. Our staff of amazing physical therapists would love to see you for all your rehabilitation needs. Contact us for a free consultation today!
1Total Knee Replacement Surgery Information | Cleveland Clinic: Health Library. Cleveland Clinic. Published 2016. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/8512-knee-replacement
2Mayo Clinic. Hip replacement – Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. Published 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hip-replacement/about/pac-20385042
3Pre-hab for Surgery | Arthritis Foundation. www.arthritis.org. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/treatment/joint-surgery/preplanning/pre-hab-for-surgery
4Life After Joint Replacement: Why Physical Therapy Is Key. www.henryford.com. Accessed October 1, 2023. https://www.henryford.com/blog/2021/12/physical-therapy-joint-replacement