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What is the purpose of a knee manipulation procedure?

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Manipulation under anesthesia helps to improve knee stiffness and range of motion after knee revision surgery or total knee arthroplasty, according to BoneSmart. During the nonsurgical procedure, the patient is placed under general or spinal anesthesia, and the doctor uses orthopedic manipulations to work out adhesions and free the joint.

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Although therapeutic manipulations and physiotherapy can successfully work out small adhesions, larger fibrous adhesions around the knee joint typically require manipulation under anesthesia, states BoneSmart. The procedure takes place in a hospital, and patients are usually allowed to return home the same day, although some doctors prefer to keep patients in the hospital overnight to monitor pain.

Some patients experience extensive pain, swelling and stiffness in the knee immediately after manipulation under anesthesia, notes BoneSmart. To manage pain, patients should ice and elevate the knee, and take prescription pain medication exactly as instructed by their doctors. Patients typically notice improved range of motion in the knee within a few weeks.

Following knee manipulation under anesthesia, patients should keep flexing the joint and engage in active physical therapy to prevent new adhesions from forming, advises BoneSmart. Due to the risks involved, patients with bone weakening disorders such as osteoporosis are poor candidates for manipulation under anesthesia.

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