Aquatic Therapy Clinically Proven To Help Knee Surgery Recovery
According to research, aquatic therapy can have as much effect as anti-inflammatory drugs when performed up to two weeks after knee surgery. In this groundbreaking study within the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, patients reported back 3,6,12, and 24 months after hip and knee surgery and reported a significant improvement in physical function and pain. The study found that the submersion forces of the water reduced swelling in the knee joint and that the timing that this aquatic intervention takes place makes a significant difference.
The medical study was lead by Dr. Thoralf R. Liebs, MD, of the University of Schleswig-Holstein Medical Center in Kiel, Germany and designed to analyze if the timing of aquatic therapy intervention made a difference in recovery. Patients of both knee and hip replacement surgery were randomly assigned 30 minute long aquatic therapy sessions three times a week, 6 or 14 days after surgery. Patients with total knee replacement surgery reported greater satisfaction and quality of life when performing aquatic therapy as early as 6 days after the surgery.
Unfortunately, total knee replacement has become a more and more common surgery. Also known as total knee arthroplasty it is often administered for a variety of reasons including alleviating severe arthritis, and correcting knee deformities. The most frequent reason is due to a type of arthritis known as osteoarthritis. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage around the joints is broken down causing pain as the bone directly rubs against each other. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s own immune system attacks the knee resulting in inflammation, swelling, and pain. Additionally, post traumatic arthritis can also occur where an injury causes misalignment resulting in chronic damage to the knee over time.
A home therapy pool is a great way to prevent and also rehabilitate knee replacement surgery. Exercise above ground and in the water can strengthen the muscles around the knee as well as improve flexibility. The buoyancy of the water significantly reduces the load the knees must bear, and the hydrostatic pressure of the water reduces swelling and inflammation. Exercises such as yoga, aquatic aerobics, and aquatic jogging can help you build muscle and strengthen tendons without putting excess strain on the knees.
“Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Early Versus Late Aquatic Therapy Following Total Hip or Knee Arthroplasty,” by Thoralf R. Liebs, MD