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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!

Prior to coming to Rock Run I had horrible experiences with physical therapy. Coming here they have made my entire experience fun, they give great quality care and are very friendly. They actually care about how you feel and you are not just a number.

5 Stars

Rachelle D. 2020

— Rachelle D., Posted August 7, 2020

I injured my left ACL racing BMX bikes at age 40 (not smart). My surgeon replaced my ACL and I started PT here shortly after. I had my first appointment with Brenda and she did a wonderful job listening to my concerns and most importantly my goals. She beat my knee the first visit, which was VERY unpleasant but necessary. Fast forward 6 weeks, and I have my full range of motion back. I can golf, ride bikes with my kids, and walk all day. When I finally make it big BMX racing in my 40’s, I’ll have a Rock Run sticker on my helmet.

10 Stars!!

Dan M. 2020

— Dan M., Posted August 7, 2020

I came to Rock Run PT from another PT office because I was not progressing fast enough. When I came to Rock Run PT and told them my issue, they started me out with small weights and my progression started. I improved my strength in my arm and shoulder. This was after the 8th surgery and with one arm. I had to improve my strength so I could do my daily workout in my 1/5th acre garden.

5 Stars

Patrick H. 2020

— Patrick H., Posted August 7, 2020

Rock Run Physical Therapy is the best on physical therapy it is the only place where I have had complete success. This is the best place and staff! Thanks to Brenda and the rest of the staff I didn’t have to have surgery for a frozen shoulder and they have made my life so much better because of this!

5 Stars

Roxanne S. 2020

— Roxanne S., Posted August 3, 2020

I was being seen for a torn MCL. Josh did a great job evaluating the issue and then designing a recovery program. I feel my knee is much stronger than before the injury. Everyone on the staff has been great. Very accommodating and understanding. Thank you for everything.

5 Stars

Scott T. 2020

— Scott T., Posted August 1, 2020

My experience at Rock Run has been amazing. When I first started coming to PT, I had a lot of pain in my hips and had a hard time walking/running.  After working with Brittnee, she showed me things I could do to strengthen my muscles. I have never felt better and my hips feel great. I can go on walks and runs now without pain!

-Jazmin S.

5 Stars

— Jazmin S., Posted July 29, 2020

I have had such an amazing experience at Rock Run. Everyone is so nice and I am so happy with how much happier I am with my ankle motion. Josh and Amanda have done such a great job at pushing me and helping me do things that I never would have been able to do on my own. I definitely struggled with walking and moving around before but I am moving much better and can do so much more. I am so thankful for everything that the employees at Rock Run have helped me accomplish. I would definitely recommend them to anyone who is in need of Physical Therapy.

5 Stars

Kalista N. 2020

— Kalista N., Posted July 28, 2020

My experience at Rock Run and working with Jerrin has been a relief. I have regained my range of motion to allow activities to be enjoyed again. I have enjoyed the personal interaction with each of the staff. I will highly recommend Rock Run to others! I just feel better!

-Mark R.

5 Stars

— Mark R, Posted July 21, 2020

Very positive experience all around. At the beginning, I had a lot of pain when performing basic activities, like walking or going up stairs. I was very skeptical about the benefits that physical therapy could provide.

The exercises performed here took my body out of the comfort zone and were very awkward at first. However, after three weeks, I have seen amazing improvement. The pain level in my daily life and activities has dropped significantly and I can now say that I feel healthy again.

5 Stars

Travis G. 2020

— Travis G., Posted July 20, 2020

When I first came to physical therapy, I was having difficulty functioning at all because of my back. After two visits I was feeling so much better! I could not believe the difference! I loved that all the staff were focused on teaching me how to take care of my back, so I could do everything on my own. I even graduated early because my back was so much better!

5 Stars                                 Deanna B. 2020

— Deanna B., Posted July 17, 2020

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