A New Way to Move: Tips for Physical Therapy After a Total Joint Replacement

Posted on: 28 April 2022

Having a total joint replacement is a life-changing event that comes with an extensive healing process. As part of your recovery, your doctor will recommend you attend a physical therapy center consistently. Working with your therapists, you will gain a better understanding of how your body can now adapt to your joint replacement as well as advice on how to improve your overall healing. Here are three things to keep in mind as you begin your physical therapy in the healing process of your joint replacement. 

Physical Therapy

The recovery process for total joint replacement rehab will go far beyond your immediate post-surgery timeline. Regularly attending physical therapy sessions as soon as your doctor gives you the go-ahead will be monumental in the healing process. Learning to maneuver and work with the motions of your new joint can be a challenge at first, but with time, will become easier. Allow your physical therapist to guide you through motions that will help you adapt to your new joint. Learning how to catch a ball after receiving a replacement elbow, for instance, might at first seem like a rudimentary exercise. You'll learn that, eventually, these exercises you perform during your physical therapy sessions will lead you to a greater range of movement. 

In-Home Exercises

While attending physical therapy will be a must in your recovery process, you'll also need to continue your work at home. Physical therapists are an excellent resource to recommend products that will allow you to do this. They may recommend certain ways to perform typical tasks that will help reduce scar tissue. Tools that can assist you such as elastic bands and medicine balls can easily be stored in your home while providing you with at-home access to exercise. Also, be sure to ask your physical therapist for printouts of your recommended in-home exercises. These will serve as a great visual reminder to not only perform your exercises regularly, but also provide the proper placement and movements your body should be in. 

Pain Management

Learning to adapt to a joint replacement can be a painful process for many. While some patients may be prescribed heavy-duty pain killers immediately following their surgery, many may want to figure out a less habit-forming option for a long-term solution. Regularly maintaining movement in your joints can help alleviate stiffness that causes pain, so maintaining the recommended exercises your doctor prescribes will be very important. Warm compresses can help soothe achy joints, and there is also a variety of cooling gels on the market that offer a topical form of pain relief.