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  • Writer's pictureRicardo Vargues - Fisioterapeuta

Physiotherapy in Total Knee Replacement: Everything You Need to Know

Total knee replacement
Total knee replacement

Did you know that knee replacement surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures worldwide? Knee arthroplasty, as it's called, is a surgery involving the replacement of the knee joint with an artificial prosthesis.

Although the idea of surgery might be daunting, a knee prosthesis can be the best solution for people experiencing intense pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility in their knee joints. In this article, you'll find everything you need to know about physiotherapy after knee replacement surgery.

What is a knee replacement?

A knee replacement is a medical device placed in the knee to replace the natural joint. It is a common surgical procedure used to treat individuals with knee joint pain, loss of mobility, and stiffness.

There are different types of knee prostheses available in the market, which vary in size, shape, and material. However, all knee prostheses are made of safe and durable materials that can last between 10 and 20 years depending on the type of prosthesis and its usage.

When is a knee replacement needed?

There are several reasons why a person might need a knee replacement. The most common ones include:

  • Arthritis: Individuals with degenerative or rheumatoid arthritis might need a knee replacement to alleviate pain and improve mobility.

  • Injuries: Severe knee injuries can damage the joint and require a knee replacement.

  • Wear and Tear: Excessive use of the knee joint can lead to wear and tear, eventually necessitating a knee replacement.

If you're considering knee replacement surgery, read the article about pre-knee replacement surgery physiotherapy to learn how to prepare your knee for surgery and expedite your recovery.

The role of physiotherapy in knee replacement recovery

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in knee replacement recovery by helping restore knee strength, flexibility, and mobility. Some primary goals of physiotherapy after knee replacement surgery include:

  • Reducing pain and swelling.

  • Improving knee mobility and flexibility.

  • Strengthening the muscles around the knee.

  • Assisting in restoring normal gait.

  • Preventing post-operative complications like knee stiffness.

  • Rehabilitating the scar tissue.

What to expect from physiotherapy after knee replacement surgery

Physiotherapy after knee replacement surgery typically begins in the hospital and may continue for several weeks or months post-surgery, depending on the severity of the case and medical recommendation.

In the initial phase, physiotherapy consists of gentle exercises such as joint mobilization and light muscle contraction exercises, along with instructions on proper walking and movement.

After being discharged from the hospital, it's extremely important to continue with physiotherapy treatment as soon as possible to avoid any regression in the progress made and worsening of your clinical condition, such as decreased mobility and flexibility, increased pain, and deterioration of the scar tissue quality.

Benefits of physiotherapy for Knee replacement

Physiotherapy is a vital component of the recovery process after knee replacement surgery.

Some benefits of physiotherapy include:

  • Pain reduction: Through manual therapy techniques and joint mobilization to alleviate pain and inflammation in the affected area.

  • Improved mobility: Post knee replacement surgery, there's often a loss of mobility in the affected joint. Physiotherapy helps restore knee mobility through muscle strengthening exercises, stretches, and other specific techniques.

  • Muscle strengthening: Physiotherapy strengthens the muscles around the knee, contributing to joint stability and helping prevent injuries and complications.

  • Complication prevention: Physiotherapy helps prevent complications after knee replacement surgery, such as joint stiffness, deep vein thrombosis, and infections.

  • Return to daily activities: Such as walking, driving, climbing stairs, etc.

Frequently asked questions about knee replacement physiotherapy

What is the lifespan of a knee prosthesis?

A knee prosthesis can last between 10 to 20 years, depending on the type of prosthesis and its usage.

Is knee replacement painful?

The knee replacement procedure might cause some discomfort, but it's generally well tolerated. After surgery, the patient might experience pain, which can be managed with medication prescribed by the doctor.

When does physiotherapy begin after knee replacement surgery?

Physiotherapy typically starts in the hospital shortly after surgery and can continue for several weeks or months post-surgery.

Is physiotherapy painful?

Some physiotherapy exercises might cause mild discomfort or light pain, but my work ensures you're comfortable during the session.

How often should I undergo physiotherapy?

The frequency and duration of physiotherapy depend on the severity of the case, medical recommendations, and my assessment as a physiotherapist. A personalized treatment plan might include daily or weekly sessions.

How long does full knee replacement recovery take?

The recovery time for knee replacement can vary from person to person, but it typically takes six months to a year for complete recovery.

When can I return to my normal activities after knee replacement surgery?

The time to return to normal activities after knee replacement surgery varies depending on the severity of the case and medical recommendation. It's important to follow the doctor's instructions and commit to physiotherapy to ensure a complete and safe recovery.

Is physiotherapy necessary for all knee replacement surgeries?

Yes, physiotherapy is a crucial part of the recovery process after knee replacement surgery and is recommended for all patients.


Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the recovery after knee replacement surgery. After being discharged from the hospital, it is of utmost importance to continue with physiotherapy as soon as possible, as your commitment will contribute to speeding up your recovery and being successful. With my help, you can expect to reduce pain and swelling, improve knee mobility and flexibility, strengthen the muscles around the knee, and prevent post-operative complications, helping to enhance your quality of life, resume your normal activities, and enjoy a pain-free life.

Do not hesitate to contact me so that we can start your recovery after your surgery as soon as possible! I am always available to support you at every step of your journey.

Ricardo Vargues | Physiotherapist


  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2021). Total Knee Replacement. Viewed on April 26, 2023, of

  2. American Physical Therapy Association. (2021). Knee Replacement. Viewed on April 26, 2023, of

  3. Leal, R., Sousa, A., Dias, A., & Gomes, A. (2016). Fisioterapia no pós-operatório de artroplastia total de joelho. Revista Brasileira de Ortopedia, 51(6), 652-661. doi: 10.1016/j.rboe.2016.11.004


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