We specialize in working with clients who will be getting knee and hip replacement surgery. Plan on working with us at least 6 weeks before your planned surgery.
More than a million Americans undergo a total or partial joint replacement every year, according to the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. About 60 percent of all joint replacements — the most common: knee and hip — are performed on women. “They tend to live longer and have more arthritis, the main reason for surgery,” says Dr. Steven Fitzgerald, an orthopedic surgeon at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.
Joint replacement is a major operation, but it’s not emergency surgery. In most cases, you can plan it around your schedule, enabling you to spend the weeks leading up to the procedure doing the crucial physical conditioning, or “pre-hab,” that can get you in the best possible condition for surgery and give you the best chance of a quick recovery.
Done properly, pre-hab can shorten your post-op hospital stay. But that’s not all: According to a study published in the Journal Arthritis Care and Research, patients who participated in a presurgical exercise intervention reduced their odds of requiring post-surgical discharge to an in-patient rehabilitation facility by 73 percent, regardless of which joint was replaced.
What to Expect From Pre-Hab
Like rehab, pre-hab is an individualized physical conditioning program designed to strengthen and tone muscles, enhance stamina and increase flexibility and range of motion.
While the exercises will likely be similar to those a patient can expect to do in rehab, in pre-hab there’s no fear of tearing a surgical wound, wrangling a swollen, painful new joint or dealing with side effects of antibiotics or pain medications, like lethargy, dizziness or constipation.
By training and preparing your muscles in advance for the exercises you’ll need to do in rehab, you can make that exercise more efficient and effective. In pre-hab, “you are learning how to do rehab and make the most of it.”
For most people, two to six weeks of pre-hab is enough to prepare for surgery and rehab, although patients with co-existing conditions — like obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, multiple joint problems and cardiovascular disease — will probably require a longer program. Having co-existing medical conditions doesn’t exclude you from pre-hab, but it limits how much conditioning can be done. (Anyone with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease should consult his or her doctor before starting pre-hab.)
We provide supervised, one-on-one – and guidance for follow-up exercises to do on your own at home.
Programs usually begin with isometric exercises, like low-impact muscle toning, tensing and stretching. Whether done standing, seated or lying down, these movements are designed to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding and supporting the joint that will be replaced. The goal is to have as little pain as possible.
Is Pre-Hab for You?
Almost every joint-replacement patient can benefit from pre-hab. Pre-hab can deliver benefits, like changing negative attitudes and providing some of the mental and emotional confidence needed to succeed in post-surgical programs.
Pre-Hab can get you back on your feet sooner, stronger and with more confidence.