Can Physical Therapy Delay a Knee Replacement?

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alternative to knee replacement surgeryBy Jill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS

Question: My doctor says I need a knee replacement, but I’m not ready. Can physical therapy help reduce the pain from my arthritic knee?

Answer: Yes, yes, and yes! Unless you are in severe pain throughout the day, there is likely still time to try conservative treatment for your knee with physical therapy. Recent research demonstrates excellent benefits of physical therapy for patients with knee osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of knee arthritis that inevitably may lead to a total knee replacement. Physical therapy is effective at increasing knee motion, decreasing pain, boosting strength, improving balance, and producing overall functional gains. Between strengthening the hip and thigh muscles to help reduce the compressive forces felt by your arthritic joint with each step, helping you find an exercise program that will allow you to get or stay in shape despite your knee pain, instruction in a home exercise program, and off-loading your joint by either a custom or off the shelf orthotic or a custom knee off-loading brace, physical therapy is proven to delay the need for knee replacement surgery. 

If you have a question you would like a physical therapist to address, submit your Ask a PT question here.