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Should I climb stairs for exercise after a knee replacement?

Q) I had a tibial osteotomy in my right knee in 1995, followed by my left knee in 1996. In 2002 I had a total knee replacement in my right knee, followed by my left knee in 2004. I was told that going up and down stairs was good exercise, which I have carried out diligently ever since. As I'm feeling slight intermittent pain in my left knee I went on the internet to find any information as to the length of time these replacements may be expected to last. I didn't find an answer, but what I did find was that climbing up and down stairs should be avoided. Could you comment please?
Sandra, Salisbury (Summer 2009)

A) I've discussed this question with physiotherapists and the consensus is that stair climbing is encouraged following the initial recovery period after total knee replacement. There may be exceptions to this when the situation is complicated by, for example, an infection in the knee after the operation, but in uncomplicated cases there's absolutely no reason for you to avoid such activities as they help build up those vital quadriceps muscles in the thighs.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Summer 2009 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to enquiries@arthritisresearchuk.org


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