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Physical Therapy Before Knee Replacement Surgery: Why Pre AND Post-Surgery Therapy is Beneficial

You’ve been told you need total knee replacement therapy and you’re wondering:

  • How do I prepare myself for surgery; and
  • How long will my recovery take?

We have good news.

With the help of physical therapy before knee replacement surgery along with a post-operative rehabilitation program, you should be back on your feet in no time.

We share the science — and the benefits — of physical therapy before AND after TKR surgery.

Table of Contents

Should I Do Physical Therapy Before Knee Surgery?

Many times, patients aren’t made aware of the importance of strengthening the knee before total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. However, the better physical shape your knee is in prior to surgery, the better your surgery results will be — and the quicker your recovery.

A recent study indicates that “the use of preoperative physical therapy was associated with a significant 29% reduction in post-acute care use”.

The physical therapists at In Motion O.C. have worked with many patients undergoing TKR surgery. We’ll tailor a pre and post-operative plan to get you back on your feet and back to your regular activities.

For more information on our services, click on the button below.

Physical Therapy Before Knee Replacement Surgery Goals

Before TKR surgery, your physical therapist may:

  • Show you exercises that will strengthen the knee while increasing flexibility and mobility of the joint and surrounding muscles.
  • Teach you how to walk using an assistive device, such as a walker or crutches, during your post-operative rehab.
  • Walk you through any precautionary home adaptations that might be necessary to make life easier after surgery. Modifications may include moving everyday items to counter height or removing rugs or furniture that could prohibit mobility with an assistive device.

In some cases, just one appointment with a physical therapist before TKR surgery proved to be beneficial.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy Before Knee Replacement Surgery

By strengthening the musculature around your knee before TKR surgery, you greatly improve your chances of a speedy recovery.

Daily exercises, as prescribed by a physical therapist, will prepare your body and improve your overall health before surgery.

With as little as two 15-minute sessions (30 minutes a day), you’ll reap the following benefits:

  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced muscle fatigue and soreness
  • Strengthened muscles; and
  • Reduced risk of developing blood clots

If I Have Physical Therapy Before Knee Replacement Surgery Do I Still Need Physical Therapy After Surgery?

Yes. While physical therapy before knee replacement surgery will help speed up your overall recovery process, you will still be required to participate in a post-op rehab program.

Immediately following your surgery, you could be expected to stay in the hospital for a few days, depending on your condition or if you have any potential complications, such as heart disease or diabetes.

Don’t be surprised if a physical therapist meets you in your room on the day of the surgery. You’ll likely be asked to step out of bed to put weight on your new knee for the first time and possibly take a couple of steps.

The therapist will educate you on some bedside exercises that will help to strengthen the muscles around your knee without putting weight on the joint.

In addition to these exercises, you’ll be educated on these recovery techniques:

  • The R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method and when to apply it
  • Relaxation breathing exercises
  • How to lift yourself out of a chair or the bed
  • Proper use of assistive walking devices, such as a walker or crutches
  • Maintaining the flexibility and strengthening exercises that you did prior to surgery

Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery Goals

Your first two weeks of recovery will be focused on:

  • Pain management
  • Reducing swelling
  • Incision care
  • Initiate exercises; and
  • Restoring your ability to walk normally

Your physical therapist will customize a rehabilitation program specific to your goals that will include:

  • Range-of-motion exercises: Swelling can limit your mobility, so your therapist will show you exercises that promote healthy movement that will allow you to perform daily activities.
  • Strengthening exercises: You may be required to use a cane after you’re no longer on crutches or a walker because of weakness in the muscles surrounding your knee. Based on your condition, your therapist will determine the best strengthening exercises for you.
  • Balance and stability exercises: Once you’re able to put your full weight on your knee, your therapist will introduce exercises that will help you adjust to daily challenges, such as walking up and down hills, making quick starts/stops, or changing direction quickly.
  • Functional exercises: Once you’re walking pain-free, your therapist will add the activities that you participated in prior to surgery. The therapist will tailor an activity-specific plan that will focus on the activities or sports your play or the requirements of your job.

Depending on your goals, physical therapy will vary from person to person, and your recovery timeline will depend on the time and effort you dedicate to your rehab.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery

The main benefit to physical therapy after KRT surgery is that it accelerates the recovery process and allows patients to regain the strength and range of motion to return to their daily activities.

The individualized care program tailored by your physical therapist is designed to benefit you in the following ways:

  • To ease your pain and reduce inflammation
  • Maintain healthy circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots
  • Restoring strength and mobility to your joint
  • Strengthen the supporting muscles 
  • Eliminating muscle and joint stiffness
  • Regaining your balance and normal gait; and
  • Returning you to your regular activities as soon as possible

Staying focused on these benefits as you participate in your rehab program may help you to stay motivated to work through the post-surgery pain.

And remember, the function of your new joint depends on how much care you put into your physical therapy program. If you don’t engage in the recommended exercises, scar tissue will likely develop, weakening your muscles and restricting your movements.

In Motion O.C. Specializes in Pre and Post-Operative Care for Knee Replacement Surgery

Are you an Orange County resident looking for a physical therapist to assist with your pre AND post-surgical needs? Look no further than In Motion O.C.

Voted #1 physical therapy clinic on Yelp and Google Reviews, we have earned the confidence of our patients through quality care and attention to each patient’s individual needs.

We excel in assisting our patients with their TKR surgery prehab and rehab by customizing treatment plans based on each patient’s unique needs and goals.

Our team consists of professional certified doctors of physical therapy who are waiting to help you both prepare for and recover from your TKR surgery.

Contact In Motion O.C. to discuss your options.

In Motion O.C.