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TOTAL KNEE REHABILITATION IN UTAH

The knee is the most commonly replaced joint in the body. The decision to have knee replacement surgery is one that you should make in consultation with your orthopedic surgeon and your physical therapist. Usually, total knee replacement surgery is performed when people have:

  • Knee joint damage due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, other bone diseases, or fracture that has not responded to more conservative treatment options
  • Knee pain or alignment problems in the leg that cause difficulty with walking or performing daily activities, which have not responded to more conservative treatment options

Physical Therapy for Total Knee Replacements


What is a Total Knee Replacement (TKA)?

A total knee replacement (TKR), also known as total knee arthroplasty, involves removing the arthritic parts of the bones at the knee joint (the tibia, sometimes called the shin bone; the femur, or thigh bone; and the patella, or kneecap) and replacing them with artificial parts. These parts consist of a metal cap at the end of the femur and a cemented piece of metal in the tibia with a plastic cap on it to allow the surfaces to move smoothly. When appropriate, the back part of the kneecap also may be replaced with a smooth plastic surface.

How Can The Therapists at Rock Run Physical Therapy Help?

Your physical therapist is an integral part of the team of health care professionals who help people receiving a total knee replacement regain movement and function, and return to daily activities. Your physical therapist can help you prepare for and recover from surgery, and develop an individualized treatment program to get you moving again in the fastest, safest and most effective way possible.

Before Surgery

The better physical shape you are in before TKA surgery, the better your results will be (especially in the short term). A recent study has shown that even 1 visit with a physical therapist prior to surgery can help reduce the need for short-term care after surgery, such as a short stay at a skilled nursing facility, or a home health physical therapy program.

Before surgery, your physical therapist at Rock Run Physical Therapy will:

  • Teach you exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the knee joint and surrounding muscles.
  • Demonstrate how you will walk with assistance after your operation, and prepare you for the use of an assistive device, such as a walker.
  • Discuss precautions and home adaptations with you, such as removing loose accent rugs that could cause you to “catch” your leg on them when maneuvering with an assistive device, or strategically placing a chair so that you can sit instead of squatting to get something out of a low cabinet. It is always easier to make these modifications before you have TKR surgery.

As You Begin to Recover

The initial goals of recovery are to manage pain, decrease swelling, heal the incision, restore normal walking, and initiate exercise. Usually our patients at Rock Run Physical Therapy accomplish this in the first 2 weeks if we see them immediately after discharge from the hospital.  We then slowly ramp up your range-of-motion exercises, progressive muscle-strengthening exercises, body awareness and balance training, functional training, and activity-specific training to address your specific goals and get you back to the activities you love!

Range-of-motion exercises. Swelling and pain can make you move your knee less. At Rock Run Physical Therapy we will teach you safe and effective exercises to restore movement (range of motion) to your knee, so that you can perform your daily activities.

Strengthening exercises. Weakness of the muscles of the thigh and lower leg could make you need to still use a cane when walking, even after you no longer need a walker or crutches. At Rock Run Physical Therapy we will help determine which strengthening exercises are right for you.  In addition, we may use Blood Flow Restriction Therapy to accelerate healing using the non-invasive power of Growth Hormones.

Body awareness and balance training. Specialized training exercises help your muscles “learn” to respond to changes in your world, such as uneven sidewalks or rocky ground. When you are able to put your full weight on your knee without pain, your physical therapist may add agility exercises (such as turning and changing direction when walking, or making quick stops and starts) and activities using a balance board that challenge your balance and knee control. Your program will be based on the physical therapist’s examination of your knee, on your goals, and on your activity level and general health.

Functional training. When you can walk freely without pain, your physical therapist may begin to add activities that you were doing before your knee pain started to limit you. These might include community-based actions, such as bowling or golfing. Your program will be based on the physical therapist’s examination of your knee, on your goals, and on your activity level and general health.

The timeline for returning to leisure or sports activities varies from person-to-person;  At Rock Run Physical Therapy we will be able to estimate your unique timeline based on your specific condition.

Activity-specific training. Depending on the requirements of your job or the type of sports you play, you might need additional rehabilitation that is tailored to your job activities (such as climbing a ladder) or sport activities (such as swinging a golf club) and the demands that they place on your knee. Your physical therapist at Rock Run Physical Therapy can develop an individualized rehabilitation program for you that takes all of these demands into account.

Further Reading

At Rock Run Physical Therapy we believe that you should have access to information that could help you make health care decisions and also prepare you for your visit with your surgeon.

The following articles provide some of the best scientific evidence about physical therapist treatment of TKR. The articles report recent research and give an overview of the standards of practice for treatment both in the United States and internationally. The article titles are linked either to a PubMed abstract (summary) of the article or to free access of the entire article, so that you can read it or print out a copy to bring with you when you see your health care provider.

Patients with TKA Who Receive Outpatient Physical Therapy Soon After Surgery Recover More Quickly Than Patients Who Receive Home Physical Therapy First

Bade MJ, Kohrt WM, Stevens-Lapsley JE. Outcomes before and after total knee arthroplasty compared to healthy adults. J Ortho Sports Phys Ther. 2010;40:559–567. Free Article.

Topp R, Swank AM, Quesada PM, et al. The effect of prehabilitation exercise on strength and functioning after total knee arthroplasty. PM R. 2009;1:729–735. Article Summary on PubMed.

Kirkley A, Birmingham TB, Litchfield RB, et al. A randomized trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee [published correction appears in: N Engl J Med. 2009;361:2004]. N Engl J Med. 2008;359:1097–1107. Free Article.

Moffet H, Collet JP, Shapiro SH, et al. Effectiveness of intensive rehabilitation on functional ability and quality of life after first total knee arthroplasty: a single-blind randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2004;85:546–556. Free Article.

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Immediately Following Surgery



The goal of the first 2 weeks of recovery is to manage pain, decrease swelling, heal the incision, restore normal walking, and initiate exercise. Following those 2 weeks, your physical therapist will tailor your range-of-motion exercises, progressive muscle-strengthening exercises, body awareness and balance training, functional training, and activity-specific training to address your specific goals and get you back to the activities you love!

Range-of-motion exercises. Swelling and pain can make you move your knee less. Your physical therapist can teach you safe and effective exercises to restore movement (range of motion) to your knee, so that you can perform your daily activities.

Strengthening exercises. Weakness of the muscles of the thigh and lower leg could make you need to still use a cane when walking, even after you no longer need a walker or crutches. Your physical therapist can determine which strengthening exercises are right for you.

Body awareness and balance training. Specialized training exercises help your muscles “learn” to respond to changes in your world, such as uneven sidewalks or rocky ground. When you are able to put your full weight on your knee without pain, your physical therapist may add agility exercises (such as turning and changing direction when walking, or making quick stops and starts) and activities using a balance board that challenge your balance and knee control. Your program will be based on the physical therapist’s examination of your knee, on your goals, and on your activity level and general health.

Functional training. When you can walk freely without pain, your physical therapist may begin to add activities that you were doing before your knee pain started to limit you. These might include community-based actions, such as crossing a busy street or getting on and off an escalator. Your program will be based on the physical therapist’s examination of your knee, on your goals, and on your activity level and general health.

Activity-specific training. Depending on the requirements of your job or the type of sports you play, you might need additional physical rehabilitation in Utah that is tailored to your job activities (such as climbing a ladder) or sport activities (such as swinging a golf club) and the demands that they place on your knee. Your physical therapist can develop an individualized rehabilitation program for you that takes all of these demands into account.

Rehabilitation Programs Experiencing Pain?

Patient Testimonials

We are committed to providing the best physical therapy experience with the highest quality of care for optimal results. See what real patients have to say about us!

Before coming to Physical Therapy for my neck I had problems doing things on the computer and even playing with grandkids. Driving was hard since I couldn’t look over my shoulder – to look in the back seat was impossible.

Now, I am having no problem looking to the right or left! My headaches that I was having daily are very infrequent now – I don’t remember when I had a bad one. Each time I came Jerrin would work on it to help me move my neck more and more.

Thanks so much!

5 Stars

Susan A.

— Susan A., Posted April 6, 2021

Amazing experience at Rock Run PT. Before Physical Therapy, I had such limited range of motion due to lower back pain. I struggled to stand for more than 2-3 minutes and could not even put on my shoes. The pain impacted my day to day activities and quality of life. After PT, I have regained my range of motion and eliminated the pain to allow me to get back to full activity! I am highly impressed with the level of professionalism and care I received at Rock Run PT.

5 Stars

Janelle B. 2021

— Janelle B., Posted March 31, 2021

Initially I was very hesitant to come and receive Physical Therapy. I did not have an injury or surgery. I came here in effort to avoid surgery. My knee was in rough shape. I avoided my morning walks, standing and going down stairs. Today, I am ready to tackle these activities again!

The staff is wonderful! Everyone is always concerned about my comfort and well-being. They have provided all the tools I need to move forward and continue progressing. Jerrin thank you!!

5 Stars

-Nanette N.

— Nanette N., Posted March 30, 2021

Everyone was excellent, kind and courteous. They helped me to extend my range of motion before and after surgery. I would recommend Rock Run Physical Therapy to anyone who has need for such help.

5 Stars

Val K. 2021

— Val K., Posted March 23, 2021

Had pain in my back and leg. I had been to Rock Run before with a similar problem ad they were wonderful to work with, so I wanted to come back. They are all very caring and professional. They prepared a treatment plan and gave me exercises to do at home. I appreciate the great service and will recommend to others.

5 Stars

Susan D. 2021

— Susan D., Posted March 16, 2021

I came I with a left ankle problem and still swollen. I was very leery to even move it but staff was very supportive and educational. The exercises started off very basic and worked up always keeping at a level I could manage. The medical staff always knew just what I needed. Any way I am leaving with a stable ankle and confidence to function and I appreciate the staff who made that possible. I hope not to get injured again but should I this will be the place I come back to.

5 Stars

Rita P.  2021

— Rita P., Posted March 3, 2021

I was diagnosed with a very painful foot condition called metatarsalgia. I was desperate for some kind of pain relief and decided to try Physical Therapy for it. 12 visits later with doing laser therapy and exercises my foot feels so much better. I’m able to walk with very little discomfort. Jerrin was amazing and he just pulled out his knowledge on how to treat my foot. I will definitely come back and recommend Rock Run to everyone I know.

5 Stars

Rebecca S.

— Rebecca S., Posted March 2, 2021

Rock Run in Syracuse was instrumental in my recovery after my shoulder surgery. The staff was awesome in what I needed, or was curious to try. Before surgery I had almost no strength or motion, and now it is about 90% better. After my surgery I couldn’t move my shoulder, and now I can go back to coaching my sons hockey team.

5 Stars

Phillip S. 2021

— Phillip S., Posted February 25, 2021

When I first started Physical Therapy, I had doubts that it would help with the pain that I had but I was surprised. There have been so many pain free days. I’m almost sad to stop. I would recommend this place to anyone. I appreciate the friendly atmosphere and especially the things Jerrin taught me – and his patience. This place ROCKS.

5 Stars

Melody O.

— Melody O., Posted February 22, 2021

When I came in my back was so bad, I was unable to do most anything. Josh and his team have worked with me to help me literally get back on my feet. Their expertise in exercises and stretches helped immensely! The pool was remarkable! The team is outstanding!

5 Stars

Bradley W. 2021

— Bradley W., Posted February 12, 2021

I think you guys have a perfect team. Excellent job by everyone being on time, clean, and very nice. I am happy with my results here!

5 Stars

Sun Cha T. 2021

— Sun Cha T., Posted February 10, 2021

I broke my elbow, but when it healed, I couldn’t extend my arm straight. After seven visits of PT, it is almost as straight as my other arm and much stronger. I can do the activities I used to with only minimal limitation or pain. It feels so much better! Thank you Brenda, Bailee and PT team.

5 Stars

Shawn C. 2020

— Shawn C, Posted February 6, 2021

I came to Rock Run Physical Therapy in 2016 for therapy on my right knee replacement and was very please with the care I received, so when it came time to have my left knee done – I came back. I have received the same quality of care as before and each person I have worked with has been professional, friendly, and caring. I recommend Rock Run highly!

5 Stars

Susan B. 2020

— Susan B, Posted February 5, 2021

When I first came in my shoulder had a very small amount of range of motion. Most movement with the shoulder created some severe pain. Since doing this therapy, increased my range of motion and just have minor pain with just a few exercises. Definitely happy with my experience.

5 Stars

Juan B. 2020

— Juan B, Posted February 4, 2021

I sustained a shoulder bursa tear and could not perform common movements to get dressed, or do simple household chores without pain. My range of motion improved significantly. The staff are so kind and therapists are fun and competent. Thank you all for improving my quality of life!

Donette S. 2021

5 Stars

— Donette S., Posted January 25, 2021

My experience at Rock Run was excellent. Everyone has a great attitude. Things were explained to me as to what we were working on and how it helped me. I felt very good about my workouts. I would definitely return for other rehab issues in the future.

5 Stars

Jay N. 2020

— Jay N., Posted January 18, 2021

I am so thrilled with my experience at Rock Run. After my injury I struggled to get the right care, and I’m so glad that I found you. Brenda, Bailey and JT have been AMAZING to work with. I know that without therapy I would still be struggling with pain, and I’m not sure if I would ever have been able to be doing as well as I am now. Thank You!

5 Stars

Kim M. 2020

— Kim M., Posted January 18, 2021

I have been coming to Rock Run for six years now but last year I had reverse shoulder replacement in February and a knee replacement in July. I have been coming to therapy since March of this year. Josh has been my main therapist but all of them have worked with me. I’m very pleased with their treatments and helping me. I not only feel they are the best but have become very good friends with them all. They are kind, considerate and professional. Actually, I will miss them.

5 Stars

Dorothy N. 2020

— Dorothy N., Posted January 6, 2021

Thank you so much! It was so painful to do most any movement especially after surgery. Now I’m walking, bending over and on my way to doing most whatever I want. I’m looking forward to many fun pain free activities. You’re all awesome, friendly and kind. I’ve really enjoyed my visits here.

Thanks for a Covid FREE environment!!

5 Stars

Mary S. 2020

— Mary S., Posted January 6, 2021

I was so worried about physical therapy after my shoulder surgery. I had heard stories and thought I would be in constant pain. I’m so glad I was wrong! Brenda and Bailee were amazing and I was never uncomfortable or in pain. Not to mention they are awesome ladies. Everyone at Rock Run took great care of me. I am so glad I came here!

5 Stars

Donna B. 2020

— Donna B., Posted December 30, 2020

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