Recovery & Support for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Regardless of which treatment you explore for osteoarthritis of the knee, NYU Langone physiatrists, who specialize in rehabilitation, and physical therapists at Rusk Rehabilitation offer services and programs designed to help you feel well in mind and body throughout treatment, and remain healthy and active for the long term.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy and exercise are an important part of recovery from osteoarthritis, whether you’ve had surgery or not. Physical therapy is an especially important part of recovery from knee replacement surgery.

Learning how to move comfortably after osteoarthritis treatment takes time, and physical therapists have specialized training to help you rebuild muscle in your thighs and calves while improving flexibility and increasing the range of motion in your knee. Physical therapists can also teach you a routine of simple exercises you can do at home to reinforce muscle tone and flexibility in between physical therapy sessions.

Our doctors recommend physical therapy once or twice a week for two to three months or longer. Your therapist evaluates your progress every four to six weeks to determine if additional therapy is appropriate. You are also encouraged to get regular physical activity and exercise outside your treatment sessions. Your therapist can advise you on safe and appropriate forms of exercise and help you develop a routine to follow.

If you’ve had surgery, over the first week or two our physical therapists use a variety of healing techniques such as heat and massage to relieve pain and make bending and walking on your new knee easier. Your physical therapist gradually adds muscle-strengthening exercises, until your mobility and strength return.

Mind–Body Wellness

During treatment and as you recover, NYU Langone offers a variety of wellness programs that may ease your recuperation. Therapies like acupressure, acupuncture, tai chi, and meditation can relieve pain and reduce stress and anxiety. Acupuncture and acupressure involve the use of massage or very thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body, which enhances blood flow and may speed healing. Acupuncture may also reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and help the immune system to remain healthy.

Tai chi is an ancient form of exercise based on a series of simple body movements that are held for varying amounts of time. Tai chi is low impact, and most routines move at a slow, graceful pace, emphasizing mental focus, balance, and calmness. Many people find that tai chi boosts their energy level and reduces stress. Studies support the use of tai chi to improve balance and reduce joint pain.

Meditation is a form of deep relaxation that has been used for centuries by people all over the world. During meditation, people usually sit quietly with their eyes closed, remaining still and tranquil and maintaining proper breathing and posture. Many people find that meditation restores emotional balance, reduces stress, and heightens energy and focus.

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