Can Physical Therapy BEFORE Surgery Help AFTER Surgery?

Can physical therapy before surgery help your recovery? According to recent research, that answer is yes. Research shows that having a few visits of physical therapy prior to your orthopedic surgery can help your rehabilitation after surgery.

Before surgery, the focus is typically maximizing range of motion, gaining strength to help recover from surgery, and learning how to walk or navigate with any restrictions after surgery. Common surgery examples include total knee replacement, total hip replacement, knee meniscal (cartilage) repair, ACL surgery for the knee, shoulder surgery for rotator cuff repair.

According to a study in Bone and Joint Surgery (October 2014), researchers found that people who used a few visits of physical therapy to prepare for their surgery required 29% less post-operative care. “Post operative” care includes less time in a nursing facility, subacute care facility and physical therapy after surgery.

Other findings include:
  • 54.2% of the preoperative PT group required postoperative care services, compared with 79.7% of the patients who did not have preoperative therapy.
  • The decline in postoperative care services resulted in an adjusted cost reduction of $1,215 per patient, largely because of lower costs for skilled nursing facility and home health agency care.
  • Preoperative physical therapy cost an average of $100 per patient, and generally was limited to one or two sessions.

To make an appointment or to discuss your upcoming surgery with a doctor of physical therapy, please email us at