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Leg Straightening Exercises After A TKR

There have been a number of blog posts here about ways to straighten your leg after undergoing a total knee replacement. I have used them and they work well. The basic exercise is there, but it is always fun to see these exercises in a different perspective – how they can be individualized to suit each patient’s needs.

I recently received some interesting information from Monique, one of my favorite contributors who just underwent a tkr herself. Her helpful suggestions put a different spin on some traditional leg straightening exercises to do during the tkr recuperation process. I thought her variations would be fun to share with everyone. They are as follows, in her words:

1.Lie on the bed and extend the TKR leg and place the heel on a rolled up towel so that the leg is slanted, not touching the bed. Then take a phone book, open it in half and place it across the knee. Stay in position for about 4 minutes. (I had to work up to this because it hurt when I first began doing this.)

2)Another exercise for straightening the leg…Lie face down on bed and let your leg hang over the edge of the bed about at the knee. Add a weight on the ankle of the TKR knee. I put the strap of my purse on my ankle and let the bag hang down. Stay in position for about 4 minutes or as long as your can stand it.

I like the idea of the phone book as a weight in exercise #1. And, the idea of using a purse strap in exercise #2 is very ingenious, in my opinion. 🙂

Thanks, Monique. I’m sure others will enjoy these exercises as well. Well, maybe not enjoy them (due to pain, you know..), but will get great use out of them. 🙂


9 Responses

  1. I had a TKR on my right knee in October 2008. I have rehabbed diligently at PT 3 times a week since then. I still cannot fully extend my knee. I use the technique of placing my heel on a rolled up towel and have evolved to placing 55 lbs, of weights on my knee for 10 minutes with no improvement. I also use the “hang over the edge of the bed” exercise, again with 55 lbs, of weights for 10 minutes. I have been doing this for 2 month with no improvement. I also recently had manipulation to improve my ROM with no improvement. Any suggestions, as both my doc and pt guy are running out of recommendations?

    • Hi, I have the same problem nothing is helping me either – done everything physio – pool – phone book – weights etc etc
      Has your got any better since this was placed on the net.
      Please let me know I need some good news I am really at the end of my rope I need more help

      • Hi Joey, I am scheduled for my 2nd revision surgery on Sept. 14th. The doc won’t know until he’s in there whether it’s 1 hour scar tissue removal or 4 and 1/2 hour 3rd total replacement. I am only 60.. Revision was done 3 years ago and ROM actually decreased. I ride a motorized scooter at grocery stores but have not bought one. I have had so much PT and did 40 lbs. of weights, etc. How are you doing? Last revision I spent a month in a nursing home post op. Not looking forward to this time around but don’t want to give up on mobility (active 5 year old grandson to chase around). Just wanted to share stories. Most of the time I’m positive and upbeat. Leslie

        • Why the revisions? I was just told that I need a revision again. tkr 7/08, revision with a larger bearing and new knee cap. Still not balanced or stable, so they want to remove it all and put in a knee that doesn’t rely on my ligaments to function. my revision was in 6/09. I can’t get pysched up to do this again so I am holding out in misery. I am only 50. How bad were the total revisions you had?

      • I am dealing with the same problem. I was beginning to think it was just me. I had TKR in June of this year. Ended up allergic to the internal sutures. It has been 5 months now and the low part of the incision is still open and coughing out stitches. Since my healing was delayed my leg will not lay flat. I ride a special bike at my friends husband’s place who is a PT. But can’t ride a regular bike at my gym. I have tried exercises and pushing on the leg till I cry to loosen it up and NADA ! I am so glad I found this site! Now I do not feel all alone. I am goinf to try the yellow pages thing tonight and the leg hanging over the bed. Dr. is wanting to order me a special brace. Has anyone ever used the brace route? I don’t want to pay for something that is not going to work. Oh I might add I am only 38!!!!

        • Hey Lara,

          I had a meniscal tear and it buckled and locked my knee in July 2009..had surgery and did physio for 9 months to try to straighten knee. I used the jazz brace three time a day (rachet system) and it didn’t make a difference. MRI showed I was bone on bone so I had a knee replacement this July 1010. ROM is not great still and have suffered some nerve damage. Bending is at 85 and my leg straightening is at -35 still.

          I had a cementless knee replacement due to an allergey to the cement. My doctor also tested the material inside on me a patch test to make sure I didn’t react…I’m so sorry you’ve reacted to the internal stitches. In regards to the brace trying everything and anything is better then nothing. However the braces can be expensive and if they don’t work it’s very upsetting. Mine cost 795.00 a month. Yes, insurance payed for 80%, but I still had to put around 160.00 out a month for about six months or longer to no avail.

          If you can afford it, try it atleast you can say you’ve tried everything. Some times there can be a problem with scar tissue and adhesions, or patella infera…I have this. Ask your OS about this condition for it can also prevent straightening and sometimes a manipulation or surgery to remove scar tissue is required.

          Good luck!

  2. my recommendation david would be to get another opinion, and another and another until someone figures it out. there is definitely something wrong. good luck.

  3. One of the ways that was effective for me, was to sit in a chair, place a footrest far enough away so that just the foot was on the footrest. Place something soft on your knee they pile the weights on and sit with the weights on the knee for as long as you can. I often watched a tv show that way. Give yourself time, it will improve. Laying on your stomach on the bed with the weights on your ankle will help, just continue to do that.
    ROM is something else. I am at 19 month out and still have range of motion problems. Rock in a rocking chair, etc all help. but the best is to get on a stationary bike. Also climbing stairs helps. It loosens the knee and improves the stiffness and ROM.
    Good luck and keep up the exercise.

  4. I’m a year out, and one knee went in, how do I get it straight again?

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