Physical therapy plan after total knee replacement surgery


Commentary by Linda P Barnes,

More than 600,000 total knee replacement procedures are performed each year in the United States. As our population ages and obesity levels continue to increase, knee replacement surgeries are expected to increase.   

One of the most important success factors following a total knee replacement is physical therapy and a lifelong exercise program.

Physical therapy typically begins during the hospital stay with the initial goal of getting the individual up and walking, decreasing swelling in the knee and increasing range of motion. On the day of surgery, you likely will be using a walker and taking a few steps with the physical therapist.

In the next few weeks, you will be doing a variety of exercises with the therapist, including, but not limited to, leg raises, ankle pumps, knee straightening and supported knee bends, with a goal of reaching 90-degree flexion.

In three to six weeks, you can expect to use a cane or no device at all for walking. You will start doing normal daily tasks at home such as making your own coffee, showering, dressing, etc. You will also be working on scar mobilization and strengthening as you progress.

In seven to 12 weeks, you should have a wide range of motion and will continue with scar mobilization and strengthening as needed.

Therapy On Wheels physical therapists can help you recover from your knee replacement in the comfort of your own home as an outpatient. Contact our office at 317-332-9861 for information or visit our website at

Linda P. Barnes is an occupational therapist and owner/president of Therapy On Wheels, Inc.