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Regaining Full Range of Motion After Knee Surgery

lady stretching knees

Regaining Full Range of Motion After Knee Surgery

In order for you to walk, run, sit or kick comfortably, your knee—the largest joint in the body—must be able to move through an arc of about 130 degrees, from completely straight, or fully extended, to completely bent, or fully flexed.

Two muscle groups control this motion:

  • The quadriceps on the front of the thigh contract to fully extend the leg and the hamstrings on the back of the thigh contract to fully flex the knee.
  • The second important structures are the soft tissues (ligaments and joint capsules), which control movements providing joint stability.

After knee surgery, when mobility is restricted, these muscle groups can lose strength and atrophy while the soft tissues can adaptively shorten.

When a flexion contracture is severe, additional surgery may be necessary to help restore range of motion. Many studies have shown that even in less severe cases, a reduction in range of knee motion by as little as three degrees to five degrees is associated with increased pain and decreased patient satisfaction with the outcome of the surgery.
Whether you have had anterior cruciate ligament surgery, total knee replacement or other knee surgery, achieving full extension of your leg will give you the best possible chance to return to your preoperative activity level.

To achieve the best possible outcome, we can design a series of progressive resistance exercises that will strengthen the thigh muscles and restore the knee’s function and strength—a stretching routine to return ligaments and capsule to normal length—while still allowing your knee to heal safely from surgery.

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Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
Tom Willemann

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