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What physical therapy is needed after knee replacement surgery?

Dr. Travis M. Hendry, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

While you're in your hospital bed after knee replacement surgery you will start your physical therapy. Your leg may be placed in a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine. This machine slowly and continually bends and straightens your knee. It will be set to a specific degree of bending, which will gradually be increased. The goal is to increase the amount of motion in your knee joint.

You will also work with a physical therapist to learn a series of recovery exercises. You will be taught to use crutches or a walker.

Physical therapy after a knee replacement surgery has multiple goals. The physical therapist will help to control pain and swelling as well as provide exercises to prevent a blood clot from forming in the leg. After a total knee replacement, physical therapy is also needed to regain full range of motion (both flexion and extension). This allows the patient to resume normal function and normal gait, which can help prevent future injuries.

Physical therapists also work on regaining strength of the upper leg. After surgery, the muscles in the leg are stunned and may not work properly. Physical therapy works to regain this strength and function.

Physical therapy after a knee replacement focuses on the range of motion, strengthening and learning to use the joint again.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.