Exercises after a stem cell injection in your knee are important to increase the effectiveness and success of the procedure. To ensure proper healing, activity may be restricted to low impact for the first 2-3 days. Your pain levels will dictate exercise progression from there. Initially, it is important to complete a simple range of motion exercises to decrease stiffness and improve blood flow to the area to optimize healing. Over the next few weeks, you will be able to progress the intensity of exercises based on how you are feeling. Doing too much activity, too soon may negatively impact the effectiveness of the stem cells. Seeking out a physical therapist can help guide you in the right direction.
Instead of invasive surgery, you have the opportunity to supercharge your body’s own natural healing process through precisely placed stem cells and PRP. This is an alternative to other risky surgeries and total joint replacements. The correct rehabilitation is very important to ensure you are doing everything to maximize the benefit and minimize any further complications. When considering exercise after stem cell procedures, it is important to understand the healing process to make sure the cells are not overly stressed before they are ready. This could lead to decreased effectiveness or poor healing.
Stem cells are commonly used to improve the healing of a previous knee injury or decrease chronic pain related to knee osteoarthritis. The pain likely resulted from a change in walking mechanics or muscle imbalances in your body that led to irritation. Stem cells can help calm the irritation and build healthy tissue but the pain will likely return if we don’t address what had led to the irritation in the first place. This is a proper rehabilitation is key to keep the pain away!
Exercise is important after a stem cell injection because we are able to teach your body how to move without pain is the limiting factor. If resort back to your old movement patterns, you could return to your same old pains. In order to avoid this, seeking out a physical therapist is key to your recovery. The good thing is, recovery is typically not as in-depth nor as difficult as it is for a total knee replacement.
What exercises after a stem cell injection in your knee should you do?! Each person’s recovery will look a little different but these are general guidelines to follow to get the most out of your procedure. You may go through this following time at a faster or slower rate depending on your pain levels.
Top 10 Knee Exercises After A Stem Cell Injection
In the first 5-7 days:
The goal is pain management, along with regaining range of motion as your body’s natural inflammatory response goes to work to begin the healing process. Ideally, you would do these exercises 2-3 times per day for 10-12 reps each. Use pain as your guide and gently complete each movement while avoiding forcing your knee into any of these positions.
1. Knee straightening
2. Knee bends with straight leg raise
3. Lateral kicks — You will do this exercise on both sides.
*Use a kitchen counter or a wall for support as needed.
In weeks 2-3:
The goal is to start loading the joint once the pain is under control. It is important to make sure you are not overcompensating with your other leg on any of these exercises. We are looking to challenge your strength and balance in this stage. Both are extremely important for restoring optimal function. If you are having difficulty controlling your pain, continue the above exercises until you are able to find relief. Ideally, you would do these
exercises at least once per day for 10-15 reps each.
4. Supported squat
5. Lateral step overs
6. Alternating cone taps — You can use a cone-like in this video or you can simply find a household object to use as well.
In weeks 4+:
Once you have mastered the above exercises, without significant increases in pain, you can begin strengthening your knee. Ideally, you would do these exercises once per day for 8-12 reps each. Continue to listen to your body to avoid overdoing it.
7. Supported lunge
8. Tandem dumbbell swings (this can be done with or without weights).
The goal is to master these exercises not only without pain exacerbations but also with confidence. When you have a procedure done to your knee, it is important you restore single-leg strength, balance, and joint control. This will help you return to walking normally and return to the activities you love. If you neglect this part of the healing, your pain may resurface. Additionally, if you return to activity too early, you may not see the results you had hoped for.
If you are looking to return to higher-level activities like skiing, running, or hiking, you may benefit from continued physical therapy in order to ensure your knee is fully recovered. You should be able to enjoy your adventures after this procedure not avoid them!
These exercises after a stem cell injection are important to follow if you want to return to your adventures. The Albano Clinic would love to help you find the right type of stem cell treatment to fit your needs and help you move and feel better!
ABOUT ALYSSA KUHN, DPT
Dr. Alyssa Kuhn is a physical therapist and arthritis specialist with Keep the Adventure Alive in Sandy, UT. An adventure is anything that makes you happy on the inside and her main mission is to help you keep yours alive! She has helped arthritis sufferers all over the country finally break free from their pain without surgery or more pills. Alyssa has found lots of adventures of her own including hiking, road biking, and skiing while in Utah has inspired her to create this journey. She wants to show the world that arthritis pain doesn’t have to take our adventures away. Learn more tips and tricks on how to adventure with osteoarthritis here.