Prehab: How to Prepare Your Knee for Surgery


Prehab: Is that a thing and do I really need to prepare my knee for surgery?

Blog post by: Kaan Celebi, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, CSCS



A common misconception when considering surgery for an ACL injury is - the quicker it is fixed, the faster I can recover.  

The statement above is wrong on so many levels!  When considering ACL surgery, especially when your goal is to get back to a sport or activity, preparing your knee is an absolute must!

We know that the better the knee looks before surgery, the better chance of a successful outcome you will have.  So, what does this look like? In the rehab world, we call this a quiet knee.

A quiet knee is demonstrated by the following characteristics:

  1. Little to no pain in the knee
  2. Little to no joint swelling in the knee
  3. Equal knee range of motion when compared to the non injured leg
  4. Quadriceps (from thigh muscle) strength equaled to 80% when compared to the other leg.

These characteristics are not achieved by just resting after an injury.  In order to obtain a quiet knee, we need to perform some rehab before surgery AKA Prehab.  This can be done with a rehab specialist and can include treatments for pain and swelling control, range of motion and mobility exercises, as well as a sound strengthening program.  A quiet knee can most likely be achieved anywhere between 4-6 weeks. Of course this is dependent on your specific injury or injuries, as well as your commitment and devotion to your rehab program.

The reason one must obtain a quiet knee prior to surgery is because this helps limit post surgery complications and issues.  Some of the most common issues seen post surgery are, difficulty controlling joint swelling, regaining range of motion, and quadriceps weakness.   These complications have been known to linger, and can last up to a year or longer following surgery. This can delay return to sport timelines dramatically and sometimes even indefinitely.

 We know that if we can make our knee look as good as possible prior to surgery, this will most likely make our recovery journey smoother.  The saying, “the stronger you go in, the better you come out,” most definitely applies here.

Connect with Kaan: 

Instagram: ACL_Academy

(833) RehabMe

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