So how long does knee rehab take? Well, the answer to that question lies solely with the specific type of injury and the severity. More severe knee injuries can even lead to surgery, which will further prolong the rehabilitation time.
Let me get one thing in the clear, however. When it comes to knee rehab, or rehab or any nature, very few things are concrete. In the physical therapy world, we work within general protocols and time frames. The reason for this is that every person is different!
You could have two people with a right knee replacement performed on the same day, by the same doctor, with the same parts, and each one will rehab differently.
This page is by no means to be taken as concrete information. I just want to give some general time frames for common knee injuries, because I know that many people would like to know how long it will take for them to get back onto the golf course.
Always consult with your surgeon prior to returning to golf!
The three main surgeries that I will focus on are: knee replacement, menisectomy and ACL reconstruction.
A very common knee injury for an older (50+) golfer is a total knee replacement. This surgery is performed whenever the knee joint undergoes degenerative changes and is essentially bone on bone. The soft menisci have been worn done by use and/or arthritis.
Rehab following this surgery can be a fairly lengthy process, average stay in outpatient physical therapy being ~3 months. The goal of rehab is to increase range of motion to near normal levels and regain functional strength throughout both legs.
You must have good strength, mobility, and balance before returning to golf! Your knee needs to be able to handle rotational forces, as well as a weight shift effectively. Surprisingly, there are significant forces that work on your knee during the golf swing. A recent medical research article even compared the forces to those of jogging.
You will likely be able to return to putting and your short game within a few months after surgery, but for long irons or driver, I would think a minimum of 4 months for the average person.
Knee rehab following a menisectomy, in general, should be much easier and faster, than ACL or knee replacement surgery.
A menisectomy is performed when a relatively small portion of your meniscus is torn and is hindering your motion and/or function, and causing pain. This type of knee surgery is quite common.
It is an arthroscopic procedure where the surgeon simply removes the torn section and cleans up the surrounding tissue. Of course, your knee will be stiff and sore for awhile afterwards, but as far as knee replacements go, the rehabilitation is fairly quick.
The majority of people can return to full activity, without restrictions, in 4-6 weeks.
While not one of the most common golf injuries, an ACL tear can put you out of golf for a very long time. ACL injuries commonly occur with other athletic events, particularly those with contact or with quick changes of direction.
However, see Tiger Woods for a top tier golfer that was greatly affected by an ACL tear.
Knee rehab following this surgery also can be long. Typical return to jogging occurs around 3 months out of surgery. Golf does place a different type of force though the knee, and a general time frame for a full return to golf would be around 7 months, but that would depend on your surgeon. You may be able to head the the range, however, at around 4 months.
A return to full activity, without restriction is generally around nine months post operatively.
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