AOPT Health Blog
Physical Therapy and Total Knee Replacements

Did you know the knee is the most commonly replaced joint? A total knee replacement (arthroplasty) is often done in response to arthritis or malalignment in the knee when conservative treatment fails.

Reasons for a Total Knee Replacement

In most cases, a total knee replacement is done due to one of the following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Other bone diseases
  • Knee alignment problems that have not resolved with conservative treatment

Before Surgery

The better physical shape you are in before undergoing surgery the better the results will be afterward. This is the reason physical therapy may be recommended before having a total knee replacement. Treatments may include:

  • Exercise and stretch prescription to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee as well as your range of motion.
  • Teaching you how to walk with an assisted device so that you are prepared for after surgery.
  • Discussing adaptations that need to be made in your life/house such as removing tripping hazards in your house and ensuring easy walkways in living areas and the restroom.

Some tips to improve long term recovery include:

  • Quitting smoking. Having a tobacco-free body will improve your healing process. Consult your physician if you need assistance or advice on how to stop smoking.
  • Losing weight. Losing excess body weight will help you heal faster and improve your function long term.

After Surgery

Immediately following surgery, the goal is to manage pain, decrease swelling, let the incision heal, begin assisted walking, and start a few exercises. Often physical therapy following a total knee replacement will include:

  • Range of motion exercises: It is vital for regaining function that the range of motion of your knee is restored. Although it may be painful, your physical therapist will teach you safe exercises to do in order to work on slowly increasing your range of motion.
  • Strengthening exercises: Your physical therapist will prescribe exercises to target the muscles of the thigh, hip, and lower leg so that you can get back to walking and doing all your normal activities.
  • Balance and proprioception training: Exercises that help teach your body how to respond to changes in your surroundings such as uneven ground will be helpful to your recovery. As your recovery progresses you may also start agility training so that you will be prepared for any changes of direction and starts/stops.


If you would like to learn about how physical therapy can help you both before and after surgery contact our office to schedule a free screen. You will have the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with one of our physical therapists. Let us help you on your road to recovery!


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