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Physical Therapy Benefits on your Knee Replacement Journey

How Physical Therapy Can Help

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, over 2.2 million hip and knee procedures took place in 2021 in the United States. Since the knee is the most replaced joint within the human body, many people will undergo knee replacement surgery at some point during their life.

The are many reasons that the knee joint may need to be replaced including joint damage from bone diseases, knee pain, or alignment problems. When suffering from knee pain, many people experience difficulty when trying to move, bend or extend their knee properly. This pain or alignment issue can cause problems when performing daily activities. 

If you have recently had knee replacement surgery or plan to have surgery soon, it is important to plan for your recovery. Physical therapy can provide the best recovery opportunity and accelerate the healing process. Making sure that your physical therapist listens to your needs and communicates clearly can make all the difference in a safe return to your everyday activities post-surgery.  

Prepare Accordingly

If you are aware that you are going to undergo knee replacement surgery, you may be wondering how you can properly prepare for the surgery. According to The Cleveland Clinic, physical therapy is extremely important after undergoing surgery because it will help you regain your range of motion. 

One of the first recommended steps is finding the right physical therapist to help you along your recovery journey. Your surgeon may recommend a specific physical therapist or physical therapy clinic, but as a patient, you have the opportunity to seek the care you need through Direct Access. All 50 states have different Direct Access rules, but in general, Direct Access to physical therapy means that you can determine where you receive your physical therapy evaluation and treatment. Deciding where you will receive treatment after surgery may help alleviate stress as you prepare for surgery.  After you decide where you will rehabilitate your knee, you can focus on preparing your home for any activities that may be difficult or impossible to perform directly after surgery. It is helpful to make your home as accessible as possible to avoid any unnecessary strain or difficulty directly after surgery. Properly preparing for surgery gives you the best chance for a quick and efficient recovery.

Benefits of Pre-surgical Physical Therapy 

Some people begin physical therapy only after they have already undergone surgery. However, beginning physical therapy before surgery can expedite the recovery process. Pre-surgical physical therapy provides an opportunity to properly build strength before the procedure occurs. Strengthening your body before surgery reduces the potential risk of complications. Just a few sessions may make a big difference when preparing your body for surgery!

The Impact of Physical Therapy

Having a joint replaced that is as important to your daily routine as the knee, can create significant disruption in your life. Physical therapy can provide you with a plan for recovery through sessions both before and after your surgery. Each person has unique recovery timelines and individual capabilities. With proper treatment, many people can quickly return to the activities they once enjoyed.

An important aspect of physical therapy is having a physical therapist who can effectively communicate with you and work to help you regain mobility.  Slowly and gradually reintroducing activities will give you the best opportunity to get back to your normal routine, increase your mobility, and improve your strength. 

How To Prepare for Your Recovery

The recovery process may seem overwhelming at first, but with the right treatment plan, you can get back to Loving Your Life in no time! Once you have had your knee replacement surgery, reducing pain and swelling will be the priority. You will typically begin your healing with cold packs and keeping your legs at heart level. Make sure to get the proper amount of rest to give your body the time that it needs to recover. The initial recovery process will help prepare your body for the upcoming weeks of physical therapy. 

At FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, your physical therapist will assess your unique needs. Your treatment plan will be designed around your lifestyle and goals. Discussing your goals with your physical therapist in pre-surgical therapy or initially after surgery will help them incorporate the right exercises for you into your treatment. They will prioritize regaining a wide range of motion so that you can continue the activities that you enjoy.

Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Diet

Another important part of the prep and healing process is making sure to eat a healthy diet. Focusing on foods that are anti-inflammatory is important for recovery. Eating a healthy diet helps with overall health so that your body is in the best condition that it can be. 

Your physical therapist may suggest foods that will help you heal and give you the most productive recovery. Make sure to eat leafy greens, nuts, and fruit to keep the inflammation down after surgery. When inflammation is managed, it can help reduce pain and begin the healing process faster.

There are Various Treatment Plans

When developing a treatment plan for patients, there are several different approaches that a physical therapist may take. Typically, these treatment plans consist of range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, body awareness training, balance training, functional training, and activity-specific training.

FYZICAL offers a unique balance program designed to help you succeed. Your physical therapist will determine whether this specific therapy is right for you. Our Balance Program will help you master your skills and slowly regain the proper use of your knees while easing back into daily life.

The treatment plans will evolve over time to include more challenging exercises to give you the proper preparation for returning to your everyday routine. Not all of these training exercises will be right for every patient, so it is important that your physical therapist assess your needs properly. Direct Access gives you the opportunity to choose the physical therapist who is right for you so you can choose someone invested in your care. 

What To Expect at Physical Therapy

Since each person is unique, you may have a recovery time that is longer or shorter than another patient. After a knee replacement surgery, most people participate in about six to twelve weeks of physical therapy. Shortly after your surgery, your physical therapist will assess your mobility and discuss your goals with you. 

They will then create a set of exercises for you that will help you regain mobility in your body. These exercises will consist of light motions to help you slowly but gradually regain movement. Leg raises, ankle pumps, knee straightening exercises, and walking are often key components of the treatment plan. Your body will slowly adjust to the new change while regaining strength.

Proper Device Usage

After undergoing knee replacement surgery, many people need assistance in the form of a walker, crutch, or cane. Proper form is important while using any of these to assist in your movement to avoid further injury.

Your physical therapist can make sure that you are properly using the assistive devices and prevent further damage while assisting in the healing process. For example, they will be able to detect if you are putting too much weight on your underarms while using crutches which can cause more pain. The techniques that they provide you with will help you avoid putting too much weight on your joints and promote faster healing.

Three to Six Weeks Post Operation

Three to six weeks after the surgery takes place, you may have less of a need for assistive devices. Your physical therapist will help you reintroduce activities that you were previously doing back into your routine. During this time, you will still be performing exercises to increase strength and improve your range of motion. Since your physical therapist will make a specialized treatment plan for you, your plan will be centered around what best meets your needs. 

Seven to Twelve Weeks Post Operation

Seven to twelve weeks after the knee replacement surgery has taken place, you likely will be able to return to the low-impact activities that you enjoy. Through your physical therapy treatment, you will gain the confidence and strength that you need to perform these activities.

You will likely be on track to participate in the daily routine you previously were engaging in. It may be too early to engage in high-impact activities when you are still in the first few months of your knee replacement. However, giving your body proper time to heal and slowly ease back into more challenging activities is better for the body in the long run.

The Importance of Staying Active

It may be tempting to lay down as much as possible after your surgery, but it is important to stay active according to Penn Medicine. Participating in pre-surgical physical therapy will help you build strength and stay active both before and after surgery. Sticking to the routine that your physical therapist creates for you will help promote successful healing.

Exercise and movement will not only help in your recovery process but also will help other aspects of your health. Movement helps keep your heart healthy which is important after undergoing any type of surgery. It will also help your overall well-being. Consistent movement will help to build strength in your muscles that support and surround your joint as well as reduce pain and swelling. Movement is imperative to restoring function. Additionally, it will help to speed up your recovery and set you on the right track for the rest of your life. 

Your ability to move will change over the course of the therapy. Making sure that your blood is flowing through your body and that you have good circulation is essential to the healing process. At the beginning of your recovery journey, you may only be able to perform small movements.

Your physical therapist will be able to determine which small movements will be the most productive for you. They can also tell how quickly you can move on to the next movement to build strength. As you continue to heal, your range of motion will increase and the amount of physical activity that you are able to perform will continue to grow. Your circulation will continue to increase and provide you with a better healing process than if you stay sedentary. When your blood circulation increases it helps to promote faster healing.

Watch Out for Warning Signs 

Physical therapists know what to look for and may be able to spot potential warning signs post-operation. Clear communication with your physical therapist will help you both spot any potential signs. They will be able to help you stay on the right track throughout the healing process.

With a personalized treatment plan, your physical therapist will be able to gauge where you are in your recovery and if there are any potential setbacks that need to be monitored. Having a physical therapist who is attentive and detail-oriented can make all the difference in your recovery process. The first few weeks of recovery are extremely important and will help set you up for the best recovery journey. 

Returning To Your Routine

Getting back to your normal routine after going through an invasive surgery can be overwhelming at first. Having a physical therapist who can help you each step along the way and give you a proper routine is important. This will help you break down your recovery into smaller steps and begin to heal at the pace that is right for you.

Simple exercises to gradually strengthen your body will help you manage your recovery process and find what works best for you. It will also ease the body into a healthy recovery instead of putting too much strain on the body. Physical therapy can make a huge difference in both your range of motion and recovery time.

At FYZICAL, your physical therapist will monitor your progress and adjust your plan of care as necessary to ensure you’re progressing well. When your rehabilitation program is complete, your therapist will write a summary of your care and give you instructions and recommendations that will help you continue to progress. This may include nutrition, stress management, sleep, or an exercise program. Go to to find the clinic nearest you and schedule an appointment!