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Common Injuries and Treatments

Ankle / Elbow / Hip / Knee / Shoulder / Spine / Wrist



Knee Replacement

What is a total knee replacement?

Total knee arthroplasty, or total knee replacement, is a common surgical procedure performed by an orthopedic surgeon where the top of shin bone (tibia) and bottom of the thigh bone (femur) are removed and replaced with synthetic (usually metal) components. 

What causes injuries to this tissue?

Osteoarthritis (inflammation of the joint tissue because of breakdown of the joint cartilage) or trauma can lead to the need for this type of surgery. Recovery takes several months and is most often facilitated by physical therapists. Most orthopedic surgeons recommend getting up and out of bed either the day of the surgery or the next day with the help of a physical therapist. Walking is often with a walker or crutches for the first several days and progressed to a cane when safety and strength have improved enough to allow this.

What is the best treatment approach?

Early rehabilitation for total knee replacement focuses on safe transfers in and out of bed, walking, stair climbing and the beginning of strength and flexibility work. 

What will the role of physical therapy be in this process?

Physical therapists play a major role in helping you return to your normal tasks.  Immediately after the surgery, you will be seen by a physical therapist in the hospital to work on early mobility and basic movements (eg. getting in and out of bed, standing, balance, walking).  Once you are discharged from the hospital, you will either return to your home and have home physical therapy or you will go to a short term care facility where they have physical therapists on staff to continue your care.  When appropriate, you will be transitioned to an outpatient physical therapist who will work to return you to all of your goals.  Recovery from a total joint replacement is challenging, but normally within several weeks of your surgery, pain levels have decreased to below pre-surgery levels and strength and flexibility work get easier. Thorough strength training is important in this process to allow optimal functioning of the replaced joint.

Will other services be helpful in taking care of this?

Underlying muscle tightness and soft tissue restrictions that are found to be related to total knee replacement may be helped by massage therapy work.  Acupuncture can also be of assistance with the pain associated with these conditions.  Training to return to specific life tasks or sports can be initiated by physical therapists and progressed by personal trainers.  After your initial physical therapy evaluation, your physical therapist will help to determine if these services may be helpful.

Need More?

If you have more clinical questions about this condition, please click here to email our Director of Clinical Operations, Jessica Douglas, MSPT, OCS, or you can get more information by searching our blog.

If you'd like a complimentary injury screen with one of our licensed physical therapists to discuss your condition, please contact us.

If you're ready to make an appointment for any of our services, please contact us.

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