Aquatic Therapy: Faster Recovery for Total Knee Replacements

Aquatic therapy is quickly becoming well known for its amazing effects on decreasing pain, speeding recovery and improving function. Aquatic therapy, or pool therapy, consists of an exercise program that is performed in the water.

New research shows that starting aquatic therapy sooner makes a difference for total knee replacements. A recent German study, involved 465 men and women (average age 58) who were scheduled to have knee replacement. The goal of the study was to evaluate whether starting aquatic therapy earlier than the usual German starting point (on the 14th day after surgery) helped, hurt or made no difference. (In the US, there is no standard starting point.) Some knee patients were assigned to begin pool-based therapy the sixth day after their surgery, while others were told to begin on the 14th day. All had three weekly, 30-minute supervised physical therapy sessions in a pool for up to five weeks post-op.

Who fared the best? Knee-replacement patients who started aquatic therapy on day six, compared to knee patients who started on day 14, reported better scores on almost every question asked during all four follow-up measurements. Based on this study, the bottom line is clear. For those patients who have had total knee replacements, starting physical therapy on day 6 is better then starting on day 14.

The results may be due to a decrease in knee joint swelling. This reduction in swelling reduces pain by decreasing pressure on soft tissue and nerves. Lastly, the warmth of the water experienced during aquatic therapy assists in relaxing muscles and vasodilates (opens up) blood vessels, increasing blood flow to injured area promoting healing.

At Mishock Physical Therapy, Gilbertsville, we have a state-of-the-art aqua therapy pool. This aqua therapy pool is similar to those used in hospitals, rehab clinics, and college and professional sports teams including the Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies.

If you have a recent total joint replacement, consult with your orthopedic surgeon to see if aquatic therapy would be appropriate for your recovery.

Our staff would welcome the opportunity to help you decrease pain, improve your function, and return you to the highest quality of life possible. We are here to serve you with six convenient locations in Skippack, Gilbertsville, Barto, Phoenixville, Limerick and Stowe! For more information or to make an appointment please call 610-327-2600, email, or visit us online at

Written By John R. Mishock, PT, DPT, DC; Owner of Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates

New patient scheduling: 610-327-2600