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Pre- and Post-Surgery Physical Therapy for Hip & Knee Joint Replacement


Pre- and post-operative physical therapy for hip and knee joint replacement is necessary to reduce the risk of complications, reduce recovery time, and ensure a full recovery.

Conditions That May Require Hip & Knee Joint Replacement

Patients may need a hip replacement if the following conditions have damaged the hip joint:

  • Trauma
  • Tumors
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteonecrosis

Pain in the hip can trigger biomechanical adjustments in the lower body, which may lead to low back pain, knee pain, and ankle pain. Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition, they may need to undergo both hip and knee joint replacement.

Potential Complications of Hip and Knee Replacements

Patients undergoing hip and knee joint replacement face the following risks:

  • Infection
  • Complete dislocation of the hip
  • Knee instability if the ligaments have poor tension
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism

What To Expect During Physical Therapy

Typically, a hip replacement is performed before a knee replacement. After a hip replacement, the patient will generally undergo six weeks of recovery and rehabilitation, which will include regular activity and exercise under the supervision of a physical therapist.

Physical therapy will typically include four components: therapeutic exercise, transfer training, gait training, and directions for performing daily living activities.

Common Exercises For Hip Rehabilitation

Common exercises patients may need to perform include:

  • Hamstring stretch (seated)
  • Calf stretch heel cord
  • Secondary calf stretch
  • Quad sets
  • Quad arcs
  • Straight leg raise
  • Calf raises
  • Cardio (Treadmill walking, elliptical cardio, and stationary bicycle)

After Hip Rehabilitation

Once the patient’s hip has fully recovered, they will undergo knee replacement. The recovery process for a knee replacement is considerably longer than that of a hip replacement. A painful hip can interfere with knee recovery, which is why it’s important to have a fully functional hip before undergoing knee replacement and rehabilitation.

After a knee replacement, patients will undergo physical therapy designed to strengthen their leg, restore knee movement, and teach them to walk using their new knee. Physical therapy may be performed at a rehabilitation facility, the patient’s home, or at an outpatient rehab clinic.

Patients will typically need to do 20-30 minutes of PT two to three times a day. They may also need to walk for 30 minutes, multiple times throughout the day.

Common Exercises For Knee Rehabilitation

Common exercises patients may need to perform include:

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Calf stretch heel cord
  • Secondary calf stretch
  • Seated quad stretch
  • Glute sets
  • Ankle pumps
  • Thigh squeezes
  • Quad sets
  • Quad arcs
  • Prone knee bend
  • Calf raises
  • Walking
  • Prone knee bends
  • Straight leg raises
  • Hip abduction/adduction
  • Heel slides
  • Mini-squats
  • Step-ups
  • Bridges

Beginning at four weeks after surgery, patients will be ready for endurance training, which will involve using the treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bicycle.

Exercises will be designed to help the patient strengthen the muscles that support the knee, so that they can eventually walk without a walker or crutches. The exercises will gradually become more difficult, and after four weeks, the physical therapist may add light weights to increase the resistance. Patients will need to perform exercises for at least 60 days after surgery.


At OC Physical Therapy, patients receive a customized treatment plan to help them fully recover from injuries and overuse. Our dedicated team of physical therapists seeks to provide you with better overall health through quality care.
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    Address: 18102 Sky Park Circle South,
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    Irvine, CA 92614

    Address: 26921 Crown Valley Pkwy
    Suite 201
    Mission Viejo, CA 92691

    Address: 29300 Portola Parkway #A,
    Lake Forest, CA 92630

    (949) 333-2224
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