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Physical Therapy before Total Hip or Knee Joint Replacement Surgery Markedly Improves Patient Outcomes


People who are treated by their physical therapists prior to having total hip or total knee joint replacement surgery reduce their need for rehabilitation after surgery by nearly 30 percent, according to a study published October 1, 2014 in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. Dollar-wise, the reduced need for post-operative rehabilitation results in an average savings of $1,215 for each patient.


Total joint replacement surgery is an option for people who have painful knee or hip joints, as well as limited function, due to arthritis. Total joint replacement has been shown in studies to restore joint mobility and patients’ quality of life. Most patients require physical therapy (PT) after the surgery. The PT might be delivered in a community clinic, skilled nursing facilities or via home health.

Researchers in this study used Medicare claims data to identify both preoperative physical therapy and postoperative PT or rehabilitation usage patterns for 4,733 total hip joint replacement and total knee joint replacement patients. They found that about 77 percent of patients used rehabilitative care services postsurgery. Those who received physical therapy before surgery were 29 percent less likely to have postoperative rehabilitation.

Other findings include:

54.2 percent of the preoperative physical therapy group required postoperative care services, compared to 79.7 percent of the patients who did not have preoperative therapy.

Preoperative physical therapy costs an average $100 for each patient, and was generally limited to one or two sessions.

Physical therapists are trained to help patients with hip and knee joint pain to maintain and improve function, movement, agility, balance, strength and ability to live independently. In some cases, people can avoid the need for joint replacement surgery. If not, physical therapy before and after surgery can improve patient outcomes. For more information about what physical therapy can do to help you, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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