(BPT) - Most patients undergoing knee surgery want to know when they’ll be able to return to a pain-free, active lifestyle and do the things they once enjoyed before knee pain took over. For 58-year-old Kathleen Cohan, this meant a desire to return to mountain biking, hiking and skiing — activities she had always loved to do as a youth and continued to enjoy with her husband in their hometown of Golden, Colorado.
Cohan recently participated in a clinical trial to treat persistent knee pain caused by a meniscus tear. After receiving the NUsurface Meniscus Implant — the first “artificial meniscus” — she completed a six-week rehabilitation program and was ready to return to doing the things she loved.
“The NUsurface Meniscus Implant changed my life. It feels great to not have to worry before I choose an activity about how much pain I’ll be in afterward,” Cohan says. “My husband and I recently went on a 100-mile mountain bike trip, and I climbed a 14,000-foot peak last month and my knee didn’t bother me at all. The implant gave me a chance to extend my activity level as long as I possibly can.”
Three months after surgery, most patients have completely recovered and are able to return to many activities that were too painful or difficult previously. Once you’ve been cleared by your doctor, the safest way to restart activity after meniscus surgery is to find activities that avoid placing unnecessary stress on your knee joint. Here are three activities to help you move safely after knee surgery:
1. Walk (don’t run!). Experts say walking outside your home three to five times each day is one of the best ways to regain your knee strength. While you may need to adjust the length of your step and speed, you will be able to spend more time walking for exercise once your muscle strength improves.
2. Dance. While you should avoid high-impact moves like jumping or lifts, ballroom dancing and gentle modern dancing are great ways to use leg muscles, engage in aerobic activity and have fun! Just be sure to avoid abrupt movements or twists that could potentially put your knee out of alignment.
3. Swim. Once the wound has healed, many people choose swimming as their exercise of choice as it’s not a weight-bearing activity and therefore reduces stress to the joints. If your knee is still a bit tender, opt for water aerobics or pool walking.
Want to mix it up? You can feel safe doing many other recommended activities such as yoga, golf, boating, aerobics or rowing. If you have experience prior to your surgery doing more intense activities, like Cohan, your doctor may give you the go-ahead to resume cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing and doubles tennis. Whichever activity you choose, remember that rushing into activities before you’ve recovered sufficiently may put you at risk for complications, so be sure to check with your doctor first before resuming any activity after meniscus surgery.
To be eligible for the NUsurface Meniscus Implant clinical studies, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, and have pain after medial (the inside of the knee) meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To find a study site near you, visit www.activeimplants.com/kneepaintrial.