How long after a knee replacement should you wait to start PT?

Recently had knee replacement surgery? Post-surgical rehab can be essential to making a quick and complete recovery. Getting a knee replacement can be a necessary and significant step toward addressing your knee issues. However, this surgery can also come with some downsides. After surgery, you may experience lingering effects including stiffness and pain. Physical therapy after your knee replacement can help you address any persisting symptoms and accelerate your recovery. Understanding how physical therapy after knee replacement works and what your timeline might look like is important. Staying informed can help you make the right treatment decisions.

Physical therapy timeline after knee replacement

Physical therapy after a knee replacement requires careful planning. If you received pre-surgical rehab, you may have already discussed postoperative treatment with your physical therapist. If you do not currently have a physical therapist, it is important to find one as soon as possible. Post-surgical rehab can have a massive impact on your recovery efforts. When considering treatment, you might wonder how long you should wait to start physical therapy after your knee replacement. The answer varies, but patients typically begin PT shortly after surgery. The exact timeline will depend on factors including health conditions, your surgeon’s recommendations and any complications from surgery. In most cases, PT will begin within a week. Some patients can start as soon as 24 or 48 hours after surgery.

Rehabilitation timelines are generally broken up into phases. The first phase begins immediately following your operation and may last for one to two weeks. A major focus of this phase is pain management. Specialized techniques for reducing inflammation may be incorporated as well. Alongside other specialized techniques, your physical therapist may introduce gentle exercises.

After the first phase of treatment, rehab typically progresses until a patient’s recovery goals are met. Managing symptoms like pain and tension is a large part of rehab. Another key aspect is functional improvement. Your physical therapist will work with you to restore range of motion and strength at the knee. As you continue to improve, your physical therapist can help you transition to regular physical activity. A full course of rehabilitative PT can come with a lot of benefits along your recovery journey. Learning more about these benefits can illustrate the importance of rehabilitative care after surgery.

Benefits of physical therapy after knee replacement

  • Faster recovery — A major benefit of PT after surgery is faster recovery. With treatments designed to stimulate natural healing, PT can optimize your rehab timeline. Manual therapy is one PT method commonly used in rehab. Manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue mobilization can promote circulation, helping your body heal. PT can also help keep scar tissue to a minimum, which can prevent stiffness and pain in the future. If you are looking to make a total recovery at an accelerated pace, physical therapy is a great option.
  • Pain management — Experiencing pain around the knee is fairly common after a knee replacement. With physical therapy, you can address your pain and experience long-term relief. PT strategies for pain management include manual therapy and targeted exercise. These techniques typically focus on the underlying cause of your pain rather than just the surface symptom. By addressing the root of your pain, you can work toward relief that lasts.
  • Improved function — Trying to restore your normal capabilities after surgery? Physical therapy can be essential to recovering your functional abilities. After a knee replacement, you may experience stiffness and weakness around your knee. Weakness often occurs as a result of muscle atrophy. Your physical therapist may prescribe targeted strengthening exercises designed to build the muscles around your knee. Focused stretches can also help by increasing your range of motion and reducing stiffness. Each person’s needs are different. As such, each patient’s rehab treatment plan is tailored to their needs and goals. If you are an athlete who runs frequently, for example, you may want to focus on making your knee ready for running again. By engaging with function-focused rehab, you can work to regain full functionality in your daily activities. 

Excel PT can help you recover from your knee surgery

Ready to experience the benefits of physical therapy rehab firsthand? Excel Sports & Physical Therapy is here to help you each step of the way. Our team is committed to helping each patient get the care they need. With one-on-one sessions and tailored treatment plans, we can work with you to find solutions that work. Our approach to rehab incorporates exercise, manual therapy and various modalities to provide comprehensive support as your knee recovers.

Call us or request an appointment today to learn more about physical therapy options after a knee replacement.