Getting the Most from Primary Care

Why Exercise Before Knee Replacement Surgery?

If you're booked in for a knee replacement, then you'll be keen to get the operation over with. Chances are your knee has been painful for a long time and it limits what you can do. Even everyday tasks are difficult if your knee isn't working right.

If you have a wait before your operation, then you get the chance to prepare for it. At this stage, your doctor may tell you to take regular exercise. Don't discount this advice just because your knee is sore and you want to rest it up to manage your pain. There are benefits to taking regular gentle exercise before this kind of operation.

Why should you keep your knee moving, and what's the best way to do it?

Pre-Op Exercise Helps You Heal Faster

You will have some recovery time after a knee replacement procedure. While you may get some immediate relief once the swelling has gone down and your new knee settles in, you won't necessarily go back to normal straightaway.

During the recovery period, you need to build and strengthen muscles around the knee. These muscles may not be in great condition if your knee has been a problem for a long time because you probably haven't been able to use it normally.

If you get into the habit of exercising regularly before your surgery, then you will start to build and condition the muscles around the knee. The better condition these muscles are in, the faster your recovery will be.

Gentle Exercise Won't Do Any Harm

While exercise can help your knee, you need to use it carefully. Stressful and high-impact exercise will just hurt; it also won't necessarily do your knee any good. However, gentle exercise should be OK. For example, taking regular short walks during the day will help keep the knee moving and build muscle strength. Swimming is an ideal option. The water will support your knee while you get some exercise, so your knee may feel less painful both during and after a session.

In some cases, your GP or surgeon may recommend that you see a physiotherapist at this stage. A physio can teach you manageable exercises that will help keep your knee and its muscles in better shape. This doesn't just help condition your knee for post-op recovery. Taking the right kinds of exercise could also make your knee more comfortable before the surgery.

To find out more about what you should and shouldn't do before surgery, ask your GP or surgeon for advice.