Disuse Atrophy after Knee replacement

TKR/Total knee replacement is one of the most commonly performed surgeries amongst patients with arthritis , where the weight bearing portions of the knee joint along with the damaged cartilage are replaced with an artificial joint (prosthesis) made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers.

What is Atrophy?

Atrophy i.e. wasting and weakening of the muscles is very common after this surgery due to surgical shock and lack of physical activity due to an underlying health condition or after surgery with post-operative precautions as advised by the surgeon.

Biochemistry changes indicate atrophy can be seen as early as 72 hours after someone stops using a body part.

Symptoms of muscle atrophy after a TKR

  • One leg is noticeably smaller in girth as compared to the normal leg
  • One leg has marked weakness as compared to the normal leg

Muscle Atrophy can often be reversed through regular exercise and proper nutrition.

Role of Physical therapy treatment to treat muscle atrophy following TKR

Physical therapy treatment post TKR helps to reduce pain, swelling, improve AROM and build strength, endurance and hence improve the quality of life helping patients to get back to their prior level of functions.

      1. Physical therapy treatment focusing on regaining the muscle strength by resistance training can help reverse the effects of disuse atrophy
        Electrical Stimulation: Using electrotherapy to stimulate nerves and hence activate the muscles is one of the techniques that helps prevent atrophy. Nutritious diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and good fats such as omega-3 fatty acids.
      2. Proteins: Protein is key for developing new muscle fibers and maintaining muscle mass overall. Examples: turkey breast, fish, cheese, pork loin, tofu, lean beef, beans, eggs, yogurt, dairy products, and nuts.
      3. Carbohydrates: major source of fuel for your body as a whole and is recommended as part of a balanced diet Examples: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plain yogurt, and milk, as they can have acceptable amounts of fiber and be free of added sugars.
      4. Omega-3 fatty acids: help prevent the breakdown of muscle by interfering with the inflammatory process.Examples: sardines, salmon, soybeans, flax seeds, walnuts, tofu, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, shrimp, and winter squash.

It is rightly said “Use it or Lose it” which clearly applies in this case.


Posted in: Fitness, Health & Wellness, Uncategorized

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