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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!

I had a great experience here and always felt that my treatment and recovery was a top priority. Before starting treatment I was not able to lift my arm at all after surgery and now I am able to use and lift my arm normally and gaining strength every day. I really enjoyed my treatment here and working with the staff. Josh, Amanda, and Kaiden were all great to work with.

5 Stars

Tyrrelle S. 2020

— Tyrrelle S., Posted October 15, 2020

I made the decision to get treatment for my back at this clinic because my mother recommended it. She was right, moms are always right. My expectations were surpassed at Rock Run, I found not only good therapists, I found excellent people, with dedication, respect, professionalism, and they motivated me to do everything well. I managed to find balance in my back and I started to enjoyed myself like I was 25 again! OMG…that was wonderful. I found out what was hurting me and learned to discipline my body with therapeutic exercises that gave life to my old muscles.

Rock Run team, you are awesome!

-Ana V.

5 Star

— Ana V., Posted October 15, 2020

I started PT due to a torn ACL that required surgery. I began my PT not being able to put any weight on my knee and barely able to bend it. In the past I really disliked PT and struggled to keep going. The staff here kept me engaged. Yeah, it would hurt to go but there was progress. The staff were amazing and after a while the progress was awesome. My knee is fully recovered now. If I need PT in the future I’ll be coming back.

5 Stars

Michael O. 2020

— Michael O., Posted October 14, 2020

When I first started therapy after my TKA, I was concerned I wouldn’t ever heal or walk normal again. The staff was very compassionate and SO helpful with my exercises. They encouraged me to be patient and to work hard. They were right! 4 months later I am very pleased with the outcome and owe my accomplishments to the great staff at Rock Run!

5 Stars

Judy M. 2020

— Judy M., Posted October 13, 2020

I was having knee pain just about anytime I bent my knee. I was sure the only fix would be surgery. But now I’m a believer in physical therapy! I was so grateful to learn that strengthening supporting muscles would alleviate the pain in my knee. I went from pain in nearly every knee bend, to being nearly pain free all the time. I feel confident in being able to continue my exercises and strengthening my knee even more. I enjoyed all the staff. They were all very encouraging and thoughtful. Thank you one million times over!

5 Stars

Jamie D. 2020

— Jamie D., Posted October 12, 2020

When I came to Rock Run I had sprained/broken my ankle and had always had issues with “weak” ankles that kept me from being able to enjoy some activities to the fullest like hiking or running. The therapy here has focus not just on rehab but also strengthening so I feel a lot more confident that I can now enjoy more activities and I know how to strengthen my ankles so I don’t have these same injuries over and over. All of the therapists have been very friendly and have added their tips for recovery that have been very helpful. Thank you!

5 Stars

Colleen H. 2020

— Colleen H., Posted October 9, 2020

I had a great experience here. I was skeptical if PT would help improve the persistent shoulder pain. I was unable to shoot a hockey puck without pain. After several weeks my shoulder got stronger and the pain decreased/ I can now do many activities pain free. I am encouraged by the progress I have made, and look forward to playing hockey soon. Thank you!

5 Stars

-Michael M.

 

, Posted October 7, 2020

The entire staff is so helpful and friendly and really care about each patient, at times that I felt I couldn’t do anymore, you all encouraged me to work through it. When I first started my therapy, I never believed I could get to the level I am today. I have recommended this facility to others, and will continue to do so. Thanks to the entire team!

5 Stars

Nina R. 2020

— Nina R., Posted October 2, 2020

This is my second shoulder surgery/rehab with Rock Run. I KNEW this was the place to come because I had such great success with my previous surgery!!! This time around I had some nerve involvement and didn’t bounce back as quickly. Josh and Jake were very patient with me and knew just how to encourage me through initial success! As my mobility improved, they gave me fun exercises at home too! Don, Kaiden, Amanda and Annie always greeted me with a smile – I just love the Rock Run team! While I hope I don’t need extensive physical therapy again – I do know where to come and who I will refer family and friends to!!!

5 Stars

Mindy C. 2020

— Mindy C., Posted October 2, 2020

I really had a wonderful experience with Rock Run PT. It was always positive and helpful.

5 Stars

Shelia A. 2020

— Shelia A., Posted October 1, 2020

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