Knee replacement surgery is a common surgical procedure for individuals suffering from knee pain and stiffness caused by arthritis, injury, or other degenerative conditions. Before and after the surgery, physical therapy is a crucial part of the recovery process. Physical therapy helps to strengthen the muscles around the knee, improve the range of motion, and reduce pain.

Knee Replacement Physical Therapy

Knee replacement physical therapy is not an optional pre or post-op undertaking. Instead, it is an essential part of the knee replacement process to get your knee back to optimal working condition. Before surgery, knee replacement physical therapy can help to strengthen the knee joint and muscles. After surgery, physical therapy helps to train your knee to function normally.

Pre-Knee Replacement Surgery Education and Exercises

Before the knee replacement surgery, patients will meet with their physical therapist to discuss pre-operative exercises and education. Pre-operative exercises can help improve the knee joint’s strength and flexibility, reducing post-operative pain and complications. Some of the exercises that patients may be instructed to do before the surgery include:

  • Straight leg raises
  • This exercise is designed to improve quad strength, which is essential for walking and other functional activities. Patients lie on their backs and lift one leg off the ground, keeping it straight.

  • Heel slides
  • This exercise helps improve the knee joint’s range of motion and flexibility. Patients lie on their backs and slide their heels up towards their buttocks, bending the knee.

  • Ankle pumps
  • This exercise helps to improve circulation and prevent blood clots after surgery. Patients sit with their legs outstretched and move their ankles up and down.

  • Quadriceps sets
  • This exercise helps to improve quad strength and endurance. Individuals sit with their legs outstretched and contract their quadriceps, pushing their knees down onto the floor.

Post-Knee Replacement Surgery Physical Therapy Exercises

After knee replacement surgery, physical therapy is even more important for a full recovery. The duration of the physical therapy depends on the individual patient’s progress and the surgeon’s recommendations.
During this time, the physical therapist will create an individualized treatment plan based on the patient’s specific needs and goals. These exercises will typically include the following:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • These exercises are designed to improve the flexibility and mobility of the knee joint. Patients may be instructed to perform heel slides, wall slides, or use a stationary bike to improve their range of motion.

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Strengthening exercises are designed to improve muscle strength in the leg, which can help support the knee joint and improve overall function. Patients may be instructed to perform leg presses, squats, or step-ups to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint.

  • Gait training
  • Gait training helps patients learn to walk properly and safely after surgery. The physical therapist will work with the patient to improve their balance, coordination, and posture.

  • Balance exercises
  • Balance exercises help improve stability and prevent falls. Patients may be instructed to stand on one leg or use a balance board to improve their balance.

  • Cold therapy
  • Cold therapy can help reduce pain and swelling after surgery. Patients may be instructed to use ice packs or a cold therapy machine to reduce inflammation in the knee joint.

How Long Will You Need Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery?

The duration of physical therapy after knee replacement surgery can vary depending on the individual patient’s progress and their surgeon’s recommendations. Typically, patients attend physical therapy six to twelve weeks after the surgery. However, some patients may require longer periods of physical therapy, especially if they have additional health complications or slow healing rates.
One month after surgery, you may begin returning to low-impact activities, like walking and driving, but it could take 3 months or more to return to high-impact activities.

ProFizix Physical Therapy & Wellness for Knee Replacement Recovery

If you are considering knee replacement surgery or have already had a knee replacement, you want to ensure that you have the quickest, most effective recovery possible. The best way to ensure a successful recovery is by visiting a high-quality physical therapist, like one of our physical therapists at ProFizix who can guide you through the process with expertise, individual attention, and customization.

ProFizix’s physical therapists are highly trained and experienced experts that know the human body in and out and will ensure you have a full recovery. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment!