After Knee Surgery

Rehabilitation and exercises after Knee surgery

The goal of these exercises is to enable full extension of the knee and flexion of at least 900.
This range allows performing routine operations such as walking, going up and down stairs.

Days 1-3: Exercises performed at least twice per day for about 15 minutes

1. Ankle Pumping

  • Lying on your back or sitting up in bed, move your ankles up and down as far as possible while keeping your legs straight.
  • You may also move your ankles in circles.
  • This should be performed every hour that you are awake, pumping each ankle 20 times.
  • *If you keep your knee straight during this exercise you will feel a stretch in your calf muscles.

2. Quad Muscle Setting

  • Lie on your back with your leg straight and toes pointed up to the ceiling.
  • Tighten your thigh muscles by pushing the back of your knee down into the bed.
  • Hold desired position for 5 seconds before releasing
  • Repeat 10 times

3. Active Assisted Quads over Roll Exercises

  • Place a rolled towel under your knee (you may require assistance for set up).
  • Pull your foot up so that your toes are pointing towards the ceiling. Try to lift your foot off the bed by tightening your
  • Thigh muscle and straightening your knee. Hold onto the ends of a
  • sheet and loop it around your foot. You may use this
    Sheet to help lift and lower your foot in order to straighten the knee. Do not lift your knee off the roll.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and SLOWLY lower the leg.
  • Repeat 10 times.

4. Knee Leg Press (beginner exercise)

  • Sheet around heel of involved leg
  • Bend knee using the sheet if needed
  • Straighten your leg against resistance of the sheet keeping your heel on the bed

5. Straight Leg Raise

  • Tighten the muscles at the front of your thigh and keep the leg straight.
  • Lift your entire leg a few inches off the bed.
  • Hold for 5 seconds then slowly lower the leg.
  • Repeat 10 times

Exercises from Day 3 onwards:

  • Continue exercise 1-5, add in following exercises.

6. Standing Hamstring

  • Hold on to a chair or place your hands on a wall
  • Bend knee so involved heel moves towards buttock on the same side
  • Hold desired position for 5 seconds before releasing
  • Repeat 10 times

7. Chair Push-Ups

  • Sit with hands on arms of chair
  • Push down on hands to lift buttocks off chair
  • Full standing up
  • Repeat 10 times

8. Going Up and Down Stairs

  • If available, always use a hand railing and a crutch or cane
  • Going up the stairs: Step up with your unoperated leg first,
  • followed by your operated leg and crutch/cane.
  • Going down the stairs: Put your crutch/cane down first,
  • then step down with your operated leg, followed by your unoperated leg last.

Pain and swelling control

Having some pain and swelling is normal. Pain can be relieved by:

  1.  Balancing rest and activity
  2. Using ice to help reduce pain and swelling, 10 minutes at a time every 2 hours during the day
  3. Elevating your leg above your heart level to help reduce swelling, pressure and pain

Illustrations by Limor Shaked
Sunnybrook's Holland Orthopaedic & Arthritic Centre and Mount Sinai Hospital has developed part of this material and this has been edited by Dr. Michael Drexler. Permission to add this link to my website has been granted by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s and Mount Sinai Hospital Guides for Patients Having Hip or Knee Replacement.

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