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Should you go to physical therapy before or after a total joint replacement?

Trick question! Going to physical therapy both before and after a total joint replacement can improve your recovery outlook. It is commonly believed that physical therapy is best done after a procedure. However, studies have shown that attending physical therapy before a procedure can improve your joint functionality before the operation as well as positively impact your recovery up to 12 months post-operation (Jahic et al., 2018).

Prehabilitation is a term used to describe physical therapy in a pre-operative context. During prehabilitation, the team at CTS focuses on strengthening muscles surrounding the joint that will be replaced. In the example of a total knee replacement, patients will experience on average a 60% decrease in the strength of their quadriceps muscle (Jahic et al., 2018). Research has shown that it may take two years or more to regain the pre-operative level of quadriceps strength (Saleh et al., 2010). Therefore, by helping you to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint (in this case the quadriceps) our physical therapists are ensuring that your body is strong enough to begin recovery. Prehabilitation is not specific to total knee replacements, the team at CTS is ready and willing to assist you in prehabilitation for any total joint replacement!

Rehabilitation is the term used for physical therapy in a post-operative context. After a total joint replacement, patients will often be referred to physical therapy to rehabilitate the joint that was replaced. During rehabilitation, our physical therapists will focus on regaining your strength, stability, and range of movement in your replaced joint. The time it takes to recover after a joint replacement varies and is dependent upon each patient's consistency in physical therapy. The CTS rehabilitation program is unique in its implementation of pilates movements into the rehabilitation program for a more well-rounded recovery.

Some common joint replacements that the CTS team regularly treats are total knee, hip, and shoulder replacements. Ask your doctor for both a pre-operative and post-operative physical therapy referral and schedule an appointment at one of our clinics today!


Jahic, Dzenan et al. “The Effect of Prehabilitation on Postoperative Outcome in Patients Following Primary Total Knee Arthroplasty.” Medical archives (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) vol. 72,6 (2018): 439-443. doi:10.5455/medarh.2018.72.439-443

Saleh, Khaled J et al. “Quadriceps strength in relation to total knee arthroplasty outcomes.” Instructional course lectures vol. 59 (2010): 119-30.

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