Advancements in surgical techniques and technology, such as the Smart Knee, have made recovery faster and more efficient. Many patients are back to their active lifestyles within a few weeks to a couple of months. However, what happens when patients are still in pain, experiencing swelling, and struggling with limited range of motion long after their knee replacement surgery? In this blog post, we’ll explore the challenges faced by the 20% of knee replacement patients who experience long-term issues and discuss potential solutions for improving their quality of life.
For a significant portion of patients, the pain, swelling, and limited range of motion don’t fade away after three months, six months, or even a couple of years following knee replacement surgery. Despite undergoing a manipulation under anesthesia and completing rehabilitation multiple times, the pain and limitations persist. Some patients find that the issues in their knee affect not only their mobility but also their hip, lower back, and even result in nerve pain in their legs. Daily activities become arduous, painful, and demoralizing, leading to decreased motivation and hope for a normal life.
Surprisingly, this scenario is not as rare as one might think. Research suggests that approximately 20% of people who undergo total knee arthroplasty experience longer-lasting limitations (source: link to research). In other words, around 160,000 people each year in the United States who have knee replacements face prolonged recovery challenges. It’s not just about enduring pain; chronic pain after total knee arthroplasty can affect various aspects of one’s quality of life, including sleep disturbances, opioid use, depression, deteriorating general health, and social isolation, among others. So, what’s next for these individuals who make up the one-in-five statistic?
The good news is that hope exists for those who fall into the 20% struggling with long-term knee replacement issues. While conventional or even no rehab may work for the majority, there is a promising option for those who see minimal progress through these traditional routes. One-on-one therapy with a skilled manual therapist who takes a holistic approach and considers the bigger picture can make a significant difference for those who have been left behind.
Sometimes, conventional exercises like leg lifts and heel slides might not yield the desired results. And what if the root of the problem isn’t the knee joint itself but rather issues related to alignment in the pelvis and lumbar spine? In some cases, knee pain and limitations may have never originated from the knee joint. This is where a holistic approach comes into play.
A pelvic floor therapist can be the missing piece of the puzzle for patients still grappling with pain and limitations. While exercises like quad sets and glute sets are valuable early on in the recovery process, a skilled manual pelvic floor therapist can identify nuances that others might miss. Why does the IT band remain tight despite stretching efforts? Why does one leg always feel longer than the other? Why is there back pain during sleep? These are the intricate details that a one-on-one pelvic floor therapist can help unravel.
No matter how much time has passed since your knee replacement surgery, if you or a loved one is still dealing with issues like those described above, there is hope for improvement. Quality of life can be enhanced, and pain can be minimized. Reach out today for a consultation to see if a skilled manual pelvic floor therapist can help address your concerns and get you back on the path to a more comfortable and fulfilling life.
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