You will probably wear a knee brace for up to six weeks after surgery to protect the knee joint as you recover. Your stitches will normally be removed in 10 to 14 days. Recovery after a tibial osteotomy takes two to three months.
During your recovery period, you should use your walker or crutches as instructed. If you had a closing wedge osteotomy, you probably won't have to limit how much weight you place on your foot. But with an opening wedge procedure, you'll need to protect the healing bone graft by only placing the toes of the operated leg on the floor when you walk. Your surgeon will take a follow-up x-ray to see when the graft is safe for you to begin putting more weight down when you walk. This is usually six to eight weeks after surgery.
A physical therapist will begin assisting you with treatment shortly after surgery. Your therapist may use heat, ice, or electrical stimulation if you have swelling or pain. Your therapist may also use hands-on stretches and show you exercises to improve knee range of motion. Strength exercises address key muscle groups including the buttock, hip, thigh, and calf muscles. Endurance can be achieved through stationary biking, lap swimming, and using an upper body ergometer (upper cycle).
Therapists sometimes treat their patients in a pool. Exercising in a swimming pool puts less stress on the knee joint, and the buoyancy lets you move and exercise easier. Once you've gotten your pool exercises down and the other parts of your rehab program advance, you may be instructed in an independent program. When you are safe in putting full weight through the leg, several types of balance exercises can be chosen to further stabilize and control the knee.
Finally, a select group of exercises can be used to simulate day-to-day activities, such as going up and down steps, squatting, rising on your toes, and bending down. Specific exercises may then be chosen to simulate work or hobby demands.
Many patients have less pain and better mobility after a tibial osteotomy procedure. Your therapist will work with you to help keep your knee joint healthy for as long as possible. This may require that you adjust your activity choices to keep from placing too much strain on your knee.
The therapist's goal is to help you improve knee range of motion, maximize strength, and improve your ability to do your activities. When you are well under way, regular visits to your therapist's office will end. The therapist will continue to be a resource, but you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.