Partial Knee Replacement Rehab Protocol | Physical Therapy |Robotic Joint Center| The Stone Clinic

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Unicompartmental (partial knee) replacement rehab protocol

  • All times are to be considered approximate, with actual progression based upon clinical presentation.
  • Patients are full weight bearing with the use of crutches, a walker or a cane to assist walking until they are able to demonstrate good walking mechanics.
  • Early emphasis is on achieving full extension equal to the opposite leg as soon as able.
  • No passive or active flexion range of motion greater than 90 degrees for the first two weeks to avoid stress on sutures/stitches.
  • No two-legged biking or flexion exercises for at least two weeks. Well-leg biking is okay.
  • Regular manual treatment should be conducted to the patella and all incisions so they remain mobile.
  • Early exercises should focus on recruitment of the quadriceps.
  • No resisted leg extension machines (isotonic or isokinetic) at any point in the rehab process.

Week 1

  • Nurse visit day 2 for dressing change.
  • Icing, elevation, and aggressive edema control (i.e. circumferential massage, compressive wraps) for 15 minutes every 2 hours.


  • Soft tissue mobilization to the surrounding and posterior musculature, and to the patella to avoid flexion or patella contracture.
  • Focus on extension for knee range of motion.


  • Straight leg raise exercises (standing and seated), passive and active range of motion exercises.
  • Initiate quadriceps gluteal sets, gait training, balance/proprioception exercises.
  • Well leg cycling and upper body conditioning.


  • Decrease pain/swelling.
  • Passive range of motion <90 degrees (secondary to stitches) x 2 weeks.
  • Full weight bearing.

Week 2 - 4

  • Nurse visit at 14 days for suture removal and check-up.


  • Continue soft tissue mobilizations, decrease edema/pain.


  • Continue with home program, progress flexion range of motion, gait training, soft tissue treatments, and Balance /proprioception exercises.
  • Incorporate functional exercises as able (i.e. seated/standing marching, hamstring carpet drags, hip/gluteal exercises, and core stabilization exercises).
  • Aerobic exercise as tolerated (i.e. bilateral stationary cycling as able, upper body ergometer).


  • Decrease pain/swelling.
  • Tolerate bilateral stationary cycling.
  • Active range of motion 0-90 degrees.

Week 4 - 6

  • M.D. visit at 4 weeks post-op.


  • Continue soft tissue mobilizations, decrease edema/pain. Joint mobilizations for range of motion as needed.


  • Increase the intensity of functional exercises (i.e. progress to walking outside, introducing weight machines as able).
  • Continue balance/proprioception exercises (i.e. heel-to-toe walking, assisted single leg balance).


  • Normal gait pattern.

Week 6 - 8

  • Add lateral training exercises (i.e. lateral steps, lateral step-ups, step overs) as able.
  • Incorporate single leg exercises as able (eccentric focus early on).


  • Active range of motion 0 to 110 degrees.
  • Passive range of motion 120 degrees.

Week 8 - 12

  • Completion of Sports Test I at 12 weeks.
  • Begin to incorporate activity specific training (i.e. household chores, gardening, sporting activities).
  • Low impact activities until week 12.
  • No twisting, pivoting until after week 12.
  • Patients should be weaned into a home/gym program with emphasis on their particular activity/sport.


  • Road cycling.
  • Walk downstairs with reciprocal gait.
  • Full range of motion.

NOTE: All progressions are approximations and should be used as a guideline only. Progression will be based on individual patient presentation, which is assessed throughout the treatment process.

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Kevin R. Stone · Jonathan R. Pelsis · Scott T. Surrette · Ann W. Walgenbach · Thomas J. Turek 

Stone, K.R., A.W. Walgenbach, T.J. Turek, A. Freyer, and M.D. Hill. 2006.