How long is physical therapy after knee replacement? |

How Long is Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement?

doctor examining a patients knee

If you have severe knee pain caused by a fracture, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other bone diseases, your physician may suggest a total knee replacement. The surgical procedure will address the cause of your pain, but you’ll need physical therapy to regain your knee’s former strength and mobility. Looking to know when to start physical therapy after a knee replacement? Are you asking yourself, “How long is physical therapy after knee replacement?” The timeline varies between patients, but most people can expect an outpatient therapy program that lasts between four and eight weeks. Your physical therapist can tell you everything you need to know about your recovery, and we’ll cover a few of the most frequently asked questions about physical therapy after knee replacement.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Knee Replacement Surgery

Physical therapy for knee replacement surgery is a vital part of your knee replacement recovery. Without physical therapy after a knee replacement, it’s almost impossible to regain your strength and range of motion in your new knee. Some of the benefits of physical therapy as part of your knee replacement recovery include: 

  • Preventing scar tissue and blood clots
  • Improved mobility
  • Better blood circulation
  • Reduced pain
  • Improved muscle function and recovery
  • Better balance
  • Stronger core

While you might not feel motivated to move much as you recover, it’s important to remember that the more you move, the better your knee will feel. When you start physical therapy after knee replacement, it will give you the nudge you need to give your new knee the movement it needs, while also countering some of the effects of immobility before surgery. 

What to Expect After Knee Replacement Surgery

When to Start Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement

As part of your knee replacement recovery, your doctor will advise you to start physical therapy on the day of your surgery. As soon as your pain is under control, a therapist will begin working with you to take your first steps. While this physical therapy for knee replacement is painful, it’s imperative to start moving in a controlled physical therapy environment as soon after surgery as possible. 

Physical Therapy for Knee Replacement at the Hospital

Unless your health dictates otherwise, your knee replacement recovery will start in the hospital. First, you’ll learn how to get in and out of bed and how to walk with the help of a cane, crutches, walker, or parallel bars. To minimize the risk of blot clots, you will learn exercises designed to boost the blood flow to your feet and legs. These exercises will also encourage flexibility in the joint and help to condition your muscles. Whether you’re headed to inpatient therapy at a rehab facility or outpatient therapy at home, you’ll be shown the best way to:

  • Dress, bathe, and use the bathroom
  • Walk for short periods and climb stairs
  • Bend your knee at a 90-degree angle

Before you’re discharged from the hospital, your care team will recommend and help you get in touch with either home health care or a rehab facility. 

Physical Therapy for Knee Replacement After the Hospital

As part of your knee replacement recovery, it’s highly recommended that you continue with outpatient physical therapy for knee replacement. You will likely be encouraged to supplement your therapy at home by:

  • Walking for short periods inside your home, and then outside
  • Performing basic chores and daily activities
  • Slowly climbing stairs
  • Continuing the knee-strengthening exercises given to you by the hospital’s physical therapist

How Long is Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement? 

The amount of time you spend doing physical therapy for knee replacement surgery and what exercises you’re prescribed will depend on your overall health, age, and how well your recovery from surgery progresses. 

What Happens When You Finish Therapy After Knee Replacement?

Even after you find out from your therapist how long your physical therapy program will continue after knee replacement, keep in mind that rehab doesn’t end there! Rebuilding your knee’s strength, balance, and mobility takes time—and, likely, you won’t feel like you’re at 100 percent, even after you complete your course of physical therapy for knee replacement. Your therapist will provide you with an exercise program to maintain at home when you’ve finished your outpatient therapy after knee replacement. This program will be designed to build on the gains you’ve already made.

Learn More About Therapy After Knee Replacement

Start planning your knee replacement recovery today! The licensed therapists at IMPACT Physical Therapy are movement experts who can help you regain your mobility and improve your quality of life with physical therapy for knee replacement. Request a virtual visit to learn more about hands-on treatment, what to expect at your first visit to one of our facilities in downtown Chicago, the southwest suburbs, or Champaign Urbana, and how to have a successful and quicker knee replacement recovery.