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  • Writer's pictureRicardo Vargues - Fisioterapeuta

Pre-surgery Physical Therapy for Knee Replacement: preparation for surgery and accelerated recovery.

Physical Therapy for Knee Pain
Physical Therapy for Knee Pain

Knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty) is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries performed to alleviate pain and disability in patients with severe osteoarthritis or knee joint injuries. While the surgery can be highly effective in relieving pain and improving mobility, the recovery process can be lengthy and challenging. This is where pre-surgery physical therapy for knee replacement comes into play. Physical therapy helps prepare the knee for surgery and accelerates recovery afterward.

In this article, we will explore how pre-surgery physical therapy for knee replacement can assist you and address some frequently asked question.

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.

How can physical therapy help in preparing the knee for surgery?

Physical therapy can assist in several ways, including stretching and muscle strengthening, improving mobility, flexibility, pain management, and reducing swelling. Here are some specific ways in which physical therapy can help:

  • Stretching and muscle strengthening: Physical therapy helps strengthen the muscles that support the knee and also stretches muscles that may be tight or shortened due to pain or injury.

  • Improved mobility and flexibility: Physical therapy aims to enhance the mobility and flexibility of the knee, making it easier to perform daily activities.

  • Pain and swelling management: Physical therapy aids in controlling knee pain and swelling, promoting a more comfortable and faster recovery.

Physical Therapy Exercises for Post-Surgical Recovery

Physical therapy exercises for post-surgical recovery play a crucial role in strengthening the knee, improving mobility and flexibility, and expediting the recovery process. Here are some specific physical therapy exercises that can be beneficial:

  • Mobility exercises: Knee flexion and extension exercises help improve the mobility of your knee.

  • Muscle strengthening exercises: Exercises that target the muscles around the knee, such as squats and leg lifts, help protect and stabilize your knee.

  • Balance and stability exercises: These types of exercises assist in enhancing knee balance and stability.

  • Gentle stretches: Gentle stretches aid in improving knee flexibility and preventing post-surgical stiffness.

Pre and Post-Surgical Care for Accelerated Recovery

In addition to physical therapy exercises, there are some pre and post-surgical care measures that can help expedite recovery. Here are some specific considerations:

Pre-surgical care:

  • Quit smoking: Smoking can negatively impact healing and increase the risk of complications. It is important to quit smoking at least two weeks before surgery.

  • Stay active: Physical activity helps strengthen the muscles around the knee and improves blood circulation. It is essential to follow a personalized physical therapy exercise plan before surgery.

  • Prepare your home: Before surgery, it is critical to prepare your home for your recovery. With my assistance, we can customize your living environment to ensure comfort and meet your needs. Optimizing your sleeping area, bathroom, dining area, and designated space for physical therapy will greatly facilitate your return home.

Post-surgical care:

  • Follow doctor's instructions: It is essential to adhere to your doctor's instructions regarding medication, dressings, and permitted or restricted activities after surgery.

  • Begin physical therapy promptly: Physical therapy exercises are vital for recovery. It is important to follow the guidance of your hospital's physiotherapist during your hospital stay to continue the therapy at home after discharge.

  • Rest and avoid strenuous activities: Resting and avoiding strenuous activities, such as prolonged standing and inadequate sleep, are indispensable during the first few weeks after surgery.

  • Maintain a healthy diet: A healthy diet can aid in healing and recovery. Ensure you follow a balanced and nutrient-rich diet.

  • Care for the incision: Reducing or preventing scar tissue formation, alleviating itching, minimizing swelling that causes pain and stiffness, normalizing skin sensitivity changes, and restoring tissue elasticity are priorities in physical therapy. I will provide guidance on scar care and demonstrate manual therapy techniques during your physiotherapy sessions.


In conclusion, pre-surgery physical therapy for knee replacement is an essential component for successful recovery after surgery. With specific physical therapy exercises and appropriate pre and post-surgical care, it is possible to accelerate recovery and improve the quality of life following the surgery. If you are considering knee replacement surgery, schedule an evaluation with me to find the best solution that works for you and your condition.

Ricardo Vargues | Physiotherapist


  1. Bhave, A., Joshi, D., Kulkarni, S., & Chaudhari, L. (2015). Prehabilitation in knee arthroplasty: A narrative review.

  2. Kremers, H., Larson, D., Crowson, C., Kremers, W., Washington, R., Steiner, C., … Berry, D. (2015). Pre-operative functional status predicts outcomes of total joint replacement. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 97(5), 372-378.

  3. Almeida GJ, Rodrigues MB, Silva JS, Paula AP. Efeitos da fisioterapia pré-operatória na função do joelho após artroplastia total: revisão sistemática e meta-análise. Rev Bras Ortop. 2017


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