Avoiding Muscle Atrophy after Knee Surgery

The knees endure quite a lot over a lifetime of use. Most of the strain put on our knees involves daily use; walking up stairs or going for a run. In some cases, pain or deterioration stems from a traumatic injury to the knee. A traumatic injury doesn’t have to be as intense as it sounds to be significant. One good fall could be the starting point of severe or chronic knee pain.

There are several knee surgery procedures that may be conducted. Technique revolves around the type of injury and part of the joint that has been damaged. One of the most common surgeries to repair the knee is the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, reconstruction. Ligament tears are common among active individuals, especially those who engage in sports. Additional knee surgeries that are common include meniscus repair, partial knee replacement, and full knee replacement. Regardless of the type or extent of surgery to repair a knee, muscle atrophy is a concern that needs to be discussed.

Muscle atrophy is a normal part of the aging process. However, there are instances in which the process of muscle deterioration could be exacerbated. Knee surgery is one of them. Not only might the muscles that support the knee have atrophied somewhat before surgery, but the lack of use after knee surgery could further enhance this likelihood.

Atrophy after knee surgery usually localizes in the quadriceps. These are the muscles at the front of the thighs. There are four quadriceps muscles, each of which is engaged when you lift your knee. While patients are not expected to immediately focus on the rehabilitation of these muscles after knee surgery, there are a few small movements that a physical therapist may recommend to prevent muscle-wasting.

Physical Therapy after Knee Surgery

Every patient is different. A physical therapist customizes a rehabilitation protocol based on numerous factors, such as age and the type of surgery performed. No matter how slight, there is no movement that is inconsequential to strengthening the muscles that support the knee. For some patients, rehabilitation will start with raising the foot a few inches off the ground while seated comfortably in a chair. This is a no-impact exercise but one that engages the important muscles around the knee.

Hartzband Center for Knee and Joint Replacement sees patients through surgery to optimal recovery. To learn more about knee surgery options, contact our Paramus, NJ office at 201.291.4040.


Category: Knee Injury and Treatment


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