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Recovering From Joint Replacement Surgery, Physical Therapists Answer Your Most Commonly Asked Questions

After surgery, the most critical phase of your recovery journey begins. In order to regain full range of motion and strength, physical therapy is essential for joint replacements. A comprehensive post-operative PT care plan includes mobilization, strengthening of the surrounding muscles and tissues around your joint and pain management.

At Park North PT in New York City Morningside and Harlem, we’ve helped hundreds of patients with hip, knee, shoulder and other partial or total joint replacements get back to their active lifestyles. We know that undergoing surgery can be an overwhelming process, so we’re breaking down the most frequently asked questions we get from our patients about joint replacement care to help you feel more at ease.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rehabilitation for Joint Replacements

What Should I Do BEFORE My Joint Replacement? 

It’s important to adopt healthier habits before your surgery. Your current activity level, diet and sleep will determine how quickly you recover from your joint replacement. Healthier, more active people tend to recover faster. Four to eight weeks prior to your surgery, you should start prehabilitation (prehab). Studies show that physical therapy before your joint replacement helps your body faster.

What Can I Begin Physical Therapy After Joint-Replacement Surgery? 

Schedule your post-op PT session before your surgery. It’s important to start PT as soon as you leave the hospital. Typically, our patients start PT within one week after their surgery. Some patients may need to spend more time in the hospital or attend more inpatient therapy depending on their overall health.

How Can I Continue My Everyday Activities Post-Op?

If you’re having a total joint replacement that may inhibit your everyday activities, it may be beneficial to see an occupational therapist. OTs help patients who have had a joint replacement adjust to living independently post-operation. 

After joint replacement surgery, you may have trouble performing some of your daily activities. For example, patients who have had knee replacement surgery may have trouble standing, walking or bending down. Patients who have had hip replacement surgery may have trouble sitting up in bed. These limitations make it challenging to participate in life as they would normally do. During the recovery journey, occupational therapists can help patients with activities such as bathing, dressing or working at their desk by teaching strategies and setting up their environment for success. This way, they can gradually and safely return to their daily life with more independence.

What Can I Expect During Post-Op PT?

Your physical therapist will guide you through a tailored program that includes exercises to improve strength, flexibility and range of motion. These exercises will help you regain functionality in your joint.

At Park North Physical Therapy, our staff employs techniques such as manual therapy in addition to innovative PT technologies such as the NEUBIE. These techniques are proven to reduce pain and swelling, promoting a more comfortable recovery.

How Long Does the Recovery Process Usually Take?

The recovery timeline varies from person to person and depends on factors such as your age, the type of joint replaced and your overall well being. Joint replacements can take between 4 weeks to 6 months to completely regain full mobility. For example, total knee replacement patients can take up to 12 weeks to completely recover with the help of physical therapy, while a partial knee replacement may only take three to six weeks to heal.

How Can I Maintain Progress and Prevent Future Joint Issues? 

We recommend that you continue physical therapy for six to ten weeks post-op to ensure a smooth recovery. After a joint replacement, you are at risk for muscle imbalances which could lead to other complications in the future. To prevent this from happening, your physical therapist will equip you with home exercises and self-care techniques to help you regain full strength and mobility.

Contact the Joint Care Specialists at Park North PT

At Park North Physical Therapy, we are here to reduce your anxieties around joint replacement surgery and answer any questions that you may have about PT care. Our joint care treatment plans are uniquely designed to fit your body’s needs so that you can experience a more active, pain-free lifestyle. Whether it's building strength before surgery or regaining functionality afterward, our experienced team is committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcomes. Contact us today to get started on your recovery journey.