Ask a PT: I just had knee surgery. Do I need physical therapy?

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Jill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS

Question: I just had knee surgery. Do I need physical therapy?

Answer: This is a really important question, because here at MotionWorks Physical Therapy, we really believe that everyone who has knee surgery not only CAN benefit from physical therapy, but we are very concerned about patients who do not pursue physical therapy after any kind of knee surgery. Even if the surgery is as simple as a knee scope for diagnoses like chondral tears or meniscus tears, all patients will do better if they attend at least 2-3 visits of physical therapy to be guided through the post-operative process and into a functional home exercise program routine. For patients with more extensive procedures such as ACL reconstructions, total knee replacements, patellar tendon rupture repairs, and patellar tendon re-alignment, physical therapy is critical to obtain a good surgical result. Patients who do not attend physical therapy tend to have reduced knee joint range of motion, on-going stiffness and swelling, discomfort over the scar, and strength deficits that result in limitations in squatting, stair ambulation, kneeling, climbing ladders, etc. If you or someone you know is planning to undergo knee surgery, please discuss the follow up care with your physician, and explicitly ask to be referred for physical therapy if this is not mentioned. Your insurance will cover the physical therapy care, and you really will recover faster with far less risk for problems in the long run.

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