Orthopaedic / Total Knee Replacement

How Much Physical Therapy After Total Knee Replacement?

How Much Physical Therapy After Total Knee Replacement?
by admin
23rd January 2023
6 minutes read

Physical therapy is crucial to your recovery after a total knee replacement surgery. It helps you restore the strength and mobility of your knee and gradually return to your daily routine activities. Surgery aids in removing the damaged, diseased, and worn-out parts of your knee and replacing them with artificial implants (prostheses). Recovery and rehabilitation are important factors that decide the fate of knee replacement.

Physical therapy (PT) involves a series of exercises that helps restore body movement and physical functionality. These exercises would differ from person to person based on their specific needs and overall health. Let us explore more about physical therapy, the types of exercises involved, the duration and their benefits.

How Much Physical Therapy is Needed?

The duration of physical therapy varies from patient to patient, depending on your body’s response to healing. You can expect to start your PT sessions within a day of your knee surgery. A trained therapist will guide you on the exercises.

You should perform the exercises suggested by your physical therapist for 20 to 30 minutes, twice or thrice. daily. Before you begin the exercises, walk for 30 mins (warm-up). Continue the exercises throughout your recovery process until you regain your knee stability and range of motion. Initially, you may require a few sessions with your therapist but gradually you will be able to do most of the exercises yourself. Physical therapy is to be continued as long as 3 months post-surgery.

How Can A Physical Therapist Help?

Your physical therapist is an integral part of the team of healthcare professionals who would help you with your recovery post-total knee replacement surgery. The procedure helps you regain movement and function of your knee, and return to your daily activities. Your physical therapist will give you clear instructions for performing each exercise and explains the duration and repetition for each of them. He/she will help you exercise safely and effectively during your recovery period. The physical therapist will make an individual exercise plan for you at each stage as you recover. 

Types of Physical Exercises Involved in The Rehabilitation Protocol

If you have had a total knee replacement surgery or are expecting to have one, you will need physical therapy after surgery. This will help you regain mobility.

A rehabilitation protocol is a guideline followed by your orthopedic surgeon and your physical therapist. This ensures you are making progress after your knee surgery.

Let us look into the rehabilitation protocol week by week.

  • Post-op Day 1 to 2
    • Your physical therapist will visit you on the first day after your surgery to help you sit up on the bed, get out of bed, and walk.
    • Walking aids such as canes, walkers, and crutches will provide extra support for walking.
    • Simple exercises will be taught to prevent the pooling of blood near the operated site:
      • Ankle pumps
      • Gluteal sets
  • Week 1 to 2
    • Your physical therapist will help you to improve the range of motion and mobility of your knee joint.
    • The following exercise will be beneficial:
      • Quadriceps sets
      • Gluteal sets
      • Straight leg exercises
      • Gait training exercises
  • Week 3
    • You will be asked to continue with the home program and gait training.
    • Some of the exercises will be added to the regime:
      • Hamstring carpet drags
      • Hip/gluteal exercise
      • Aerobic exercise (bilateral stationary cycling)
  • Week 4 to 6
    • Your therapist will increase the intensity of the functional exercise (progress to walking outside, introducing weight machines).
      • Heel-toe-walking
      • Pool exercise once the incision heals
  • Week 6 to 8
    • Lateral training exercises will be added to the regime:
      • Lateral step-ups, step-overs
      • Lateral steps
    • Single-leg exercises also will be incorporated into the regime.
  • Week 8 to 12
    • You will be asked to begin household chores and sporting activities.

What Are The Benefits Of Physical Therapy? 

Physical therapy strengthens the muscles around the operated knee and helps in recovery. The following are some of the benefits of physical therapy:

  • Provides pain relief
  • Controls swelling
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Promotes flexibility
  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves stability
  • Strengthens the muscles around the joint
  • Reduces the need for painkillers
  • Helps to get back to normal life

What Are The Dangers of Omitting Physical Therapy?

Failing to adhere to the physical therapy program might result in the following:

  • Delayed healing
    • Blood circulation is important for the healing process, and physical therapy mobilizes the muscles and joints and improves blood flow, thus enhancing the healing process.
  • Injury to the knee joint 
    • Inappropriate movements lead to an unwanted knee injury. To prevent this, you will be taught how to move your new joint correctly to prevent any injury. Movement therapy particularly benefits those suffering from chronic knee pain.
  • Injury to the supporting muscles
    • The muscles surrounding the operated knee try to take up the load which was earlier exerted on the knee joint. This leads to an imbalance, which is prevented with physical therapy.
  • High chances of revision surgery
    • Any secondary injury to the knee due to improper movement may lead to the need for revision surgery. Physical therapy aids in avoiding revision surgery by strengthening the muscles and joints.


Physical therapy prevents scar tissue formation after total knee replacement surgery. It strengthens the muscles surrounding the operated knee joint and helps in faster recovery. It facilitates improvement in joint function, mobility, and flexibility. With a dedicated rehabilitation and physical therapy program, you can recover within 6 to 12 months after your total knee replacement surgery. 

It is important to have regular follow-ups with your surgeon and physical therapist, even after your recovery period, to avoid any post-surgical complications in the future.  Consult Medfin’s expert team of surgeons for more information on total knee replacement. 

Click To Know More About The Knee Replacement Surgery, Videos, Cost Estimate

Disclaimer: The content on this site is the copyright of Medfin and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. This should not be considered as a substitute for medical and surgical expertise. Results from any treatments or surgeries are subjective to an individual patient and the type of procedure/surgery performed. Please seek professional help regarding any medical concerns. Medfin will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.

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