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Post – Joint Replacement

Joint replacements are surgical procedures in which the damaged joint parts are replaced by a metal, plastic or ceramic part. A joint is formed at the end of two bones and either one or both ends are replaced depending on the amount of damage.

Replacements are most commonly performed on hip knee and shoulder joints, but it can be done on other joints like ankle, elbow, wrist and so on.

When is joint replacement needed?

Joint replacements are usually advised in advance arthritis when pain and disability have a significant impact on daily life activities. People who are considered for joint replacement have associated issues like pain, stiffness, limping, muscle weakness, limited range of joint movement and swelling. These symptoms make daily activities like walking, stair climbing, getting up from sitting position, wearing
clothes and etc very challenging.

What is expected during recovery?

Rehabilitation post-surgery has an extremely important role in the recovery from the procedure. Recovery and rehabilitation will be different for each patient. Usually, the doctor will advise using the operated joint a few hours after surgery. Post-surgical physiotherapy focuses on reducing pain and inflammation, increasing range of motion, strength, and function.

How is the rehabilitation done?

Joint replacement is done mostly for hip, knee, and shoulder. The goals of rehabilitation are according to the phase of recovery. Generally, a week wise protocol is followed for any joint replacement surgery. Precautions and instructions given by the surgeon should be strictly followed. Home exercises should be done as advised in order to have a smooth recovery.

Initial 3-4 weeks focuses on reducing pain, inflammation and swelling, increasing range of motion, joint stability, muscle strength, and functional independence. Both passive and active range of motion exercises is done to reach the desired range. Icing and elevation should be done regularly. Gait training after hip or knee joint replacement forms an important part of rehabilitation and is done keeping in mind week wise precautions of weight-bearing. Gait training can start as early as day 2 post-surgery. Later stages aim at improving the range of motion and strength along with a focus on functional re-education. Strengthening of all the muscles that are required for various weight-bearing and non-weight bearing activities form an essential part of the rehabilitation in the later stages of recovery. A disciplined home exercise program should be followed to enhance the recovery process.

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