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Recovery from Shoulder, Knee, and Hip Joint Replacement

All postoperative rehabilitation precautions as prescribed by the surgeon including pain and swelling management, protecting healing tissues and surgical reconstruction will be adhered to. Return to sport is a decision made by your surgeon. General time frames are for reference only, as every patient progresses at different rates.


Pre-operative patient education provides patients with information and support to help with recovery. The patient will meet with a physical therapist to learn about recovery, post-operative exercises, and helpful modifications to the home and activities of daily living. Additionally, pre-habilitation may be recommended before surgery. The benefits of pre-habilitation are to maximize the patient’s functional status before surgery to improve post-operative outcomes. Improving strength and flexibility can improve early post-op pain and function.

Rehabilitation and Recovery

*This information is generalized, each patient progresses at their own pace and each surgeon may have their own protocols or modifications for rehabilitation and recovery.

CAO works with your surgeon to create your personalized rehabilitation program that will include various modalities to improve mobility, stability, movement control, muscle power, muscle tone, pain and endurance. In addition to exercises, modalities may include the use of manual therapy, cold therapy, passive motion machines, biofeedback and electrical stimulation.

The benefits of post-surgical rehabilitation

Recovery requires the patient to commit to extensive post-operative rehabilitation to achieve the full benefits of surgery. The goal is to optimize post-operative outcomes, including strength, physical function, balance, pain reduction and return to the normal activities of daily life.

Shoulder replacement (Arthroplasty)

Shoulder replacement surgery is recommended for people with severe shoulder pain, weakness and stiffness from arthritis that cannot be controlled with non-surgical means. There are several surgical procedures available. The choice of procedure depends on the amount of healthy soft tissues, tendons and the rotator cuff. Shoulder replacement surgery is safe and effective to relieve pain and restore function. Complete recovery can take up to 12 weeks after surgery.

Post-op rehabilitation is divided into three phases of 4-week intervals based on healing time frames.

  • Phase one (0-4 weeks post-operative): Therapy begins on the day after surgery and progresses for four weeks. The goal is protection of healing tissues and implants with a sling for 4-6 weeks, performing light therapy to reduce pain and swelling, and maintain active range of elbow, wrist and neck.
  • Phase two (4-8 weeks): The primary goal is to gradually restore passive and active range of motion and stabilization. Weaning off of the sling.
  • Phase three (8-12 weeks): The goal is continued strengthening and gentle stretching to restore range of motion and function. Your surgeon may recommend a return to sports like swimming, cycling and fitness training.

Total Knee Replacement (Arthroplasty)

Total knee replacement is one of the most successful surgeries available to reliably decrease pain and restore function for patients with end stage knee arthritis. Physical therapy is critical to successful restoration of range of motion and function. The goal is early mobility with progression to physical activity based on safety and tolerance.  Total recovery can take up to 12 weeks after surgery.

  • Phase one (0-2 weeks after surgery): Early and appropriate rehabilitation begins within 24 hours after surgery and includes pain medications, cold therapy and if needed, electrical stimulation for early post-op pain. The focus is on functional exercises aimed at restoring range of motion, improving muscle function and gait. Patients will have a graduated walking program to increase mobility. Walking is the best activity to help you recover.
  • Phase two (3-6 weeks): Continued focus on improving range of motion, gait and activity tolerance plus quadriceps function. Electrical stimulation may be used to help repair injured muscles.
  • Phase three (6-12 weeks): Continued focus on restoring range of motion, muscle control and power. Walking without assistance for up to one mile and climbing several flights of stairs up and down without rails. Restoring the ability to perform the important activities of daily life can take up to six weeks. Many patients can resume driving at 4-6 weeks. *Note that it can take three months for pain and swelling to subside. 

Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Total hip replacement is a successful surgery to treat patients with pain and dysfunction from hip arthritis when non-surgical treatments fail to relieve pain and quality of life is declining.

Complete recovery requires 12 weeks of post-op therapy.

  • Phase one (3-6 weeks after surgery): The goal is protection of the hip, normalizing gait, and restoring leg control. Assistive devices like a walker or cane will be mastered. Focus is on active assisted or passive range of motion and beginning to resume normal daily life activities.
  • Phase two (6-8 weeks): The focus is on rebuilding muscle strength, leg control and normalizing gait, getting off of crutches, a walker or cane, stepping up and down, sit to stand, and stationary bike.
  • Phase three (9-12 weeks): Improve muscle strength and endurance, walk a mile without limping, nonimpact activity, strength and balance exercise, good control and no pain with daily life activities.

Center’s for Advanced Orthopaedics team of sports, rehabilitation and surgical professionals offer next level training, surgical expertise, and rehabilitative care as part of a holistic care program to get you back to the life, and hobbies you love better than ever.

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