Should I exercise before joint replacement surgery?

Exercise can help with post-surgical recovery. Steve Cole / Getty Images

Joint replacement surgery is a treatment for severe arthritis of a joint. The most common types of joint replacements are hip-replacement surgery and knee-replacement surgery. Hip arthritis and knee arthritis can cause significant pain and disability. The thought of exercising before having surgery may seem counterintuitive — why would you risk worsening a sore and worn out joint? A recent study looked into the effects of exercise before surgery on patients undergoing joint replacement.

Patients who participated in a pre-operative exercise program were shown to have several advantages:

  • Stronger Before Surgery
    People who have arthritis can still exercise. These individuals who exercise are able to feel better and alleviate some of their arthritis pain if they strengthen their muscles. By strengthening, weight goes down and the joints are better supported by stronger muscles.​
  • Faster Recovery
    It was much more likely a person would be able to return directly home after joint replacement if they participated in a presurgical exercise program. People who were less fit were more likely to need inpatient rehabilitation after surgery.

It is important to note that regardless of participation in this exercise program, all patients in this study had similar satisfaction with their joint-replacement surgery. If you want to do everything you can to improve the early results from your joint replacement, however, a preoperative exercise routine can certainly be helpful.


Rooks DS, et al. "Effect of preoperative exercise on measures of functional status in men and women undergoing total hip and knee arthroplasty." Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Oct 15;55(5):700-8.

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