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Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery with Physical Therapy

Joint replacements can be life-changing procedures. They offer relief from chronic pain and help you get back to your favorite activities, like walking around Central Park or biking the Brooklyn Bridge.

However, preparing for joint replacement surgery can be intimidating, especially during the recovery process. The loss of immobility that immediately follows your operation is often the worst part. Thankfully, the combination of modern medicine and physical therapy can accelerate your recovery time to help you live a more active, pain-free lifestyle.

At Park North Physical Therapy, we’ve helped hundreds of patients with hip, knee, shoulder and other partial or total joint replacements. To encourage an efficient rehab process, we’re helping you prepare for surgery with everything you need to know about pre-operative physical therapy.

The Importance of Prehab for Joint Replacements

More often, New York City doctors and surgeons are recommending joint replacement patients undergo prehabilitation, or prehab. Research shows that patients who undergo prehab before joint replacement surgery tend to have better outcomes. A few weeks of physical therapy before a joint replacement can have dramatic benefits. For example, a 2011 study showed that knee replacement patients that had 4 to 8 weeks of PT including resistance training, mobility and step training three times a week showed more strength post-op compared to the control group without prehab.

How Prehab Can Accelerate Your Recovery

  1. Strengthening the Supporting Muscles: Engaging in targeted exercises before surgery can build strength in the muscles surrounding the affected joint. This preparation improves stability and aids in a smoother recovery.
  2. Regaining Mobility More Quickly: By enhancing muscle strength and flexibility before the surgery, you can expect to regain mobility more rapidly post-surgery.
  3. Psychological Preparation: Prehab not only strengthens your body but also helps you mentally prepare for the challenges of post-operative recovery. With our experience in joint replacement PT, Park North therapists can walk you through what to expect during your recovery so that there are no surprises.
  4. Reducing the Likelihood of Inpatient Rehab: A 2006 study showed that six weeks of prehab before knee or hip replacement reduced the need for inpatient rehab by 73 percent. The study also showed that patients who completed pre-surgery PT were more likely to walk more than 50 feet when discharged from the hospital compared to patients without prehab. Not only was prehab beneficial to patients’ physical condition, it also helped them build confidence to move independently after surgery.
  5. Shortening Hospital Stays: Prehab has been linked to shorter hospital stays after joint replacement surgery.

5 Tips for Joint Replacement Prehab 

To make the most of your prehabilitation, consider these practical tips and approaches.

  1. Start Early: Begin your prehab exercises 4 - 8 weeks before your joint replacement surgery, as early preparation has shown to yield the best results. If you are in the New York City metropolitan area, make an appointment with one of our Park North clinics in Morningside or Harlem.
  2. Tailored Exercise Programs: Your physical therapist will design a personalized exercise program that targets the specific needs of your joint and overall physical condition. This may include strength and conditioning exercises, pilates or hands-on active release therapy.
  3. Consistency is Key: Regularly follow your prehab routine, as consistent practice is essential for building strength and improving flexibility.
  4. Incorporate Cardiovascular Activities: Engage in low-impact cardiovascular exercises like swimming or stationary cycling to boost your overall fitness level.
  5. Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle: Prioritize a balanced diet, sufficient sleep and stress management to support your body's healing process.

Post-Surgery PT Rehabilitation

After your joint replacement surgery, post-surgery physical therapy is essential for a successful recovery. Park North physical therapists will guide you through the process with customized treatment plans to fit your needs and get you back to everyday activities. You’ll start with gentle exercises and progress gradually, focusing on regaining range of motion and strength in the joint and surrounding muscles. Your therapists will send you home with an exercise program provided that will help you maintain progress between sessions. Listen to your body, stay hydrated and get enough rest while you're recovering. A positive attitude, dedication and collaboration with your PT team will help you achieve the best outcomes.

Reach Out To the Joint Care Experts at Park North PT

At Park North Physical Therapy, we understand the concerns and challenges that come with joint replacement surgery. Our comprehensive prehab and rehab programs are designed to support you throughout the process so that you can return to your active lifestyle. 

Take the first step towards a pain-free and active life – schedule a consultation with our expert physical therapists today. Let us be your partners in enhancing your joint replacement experience and reclaiming the life you love.