Recovery from Total Knee Replacement

Recovery from your total knee replacement surgery plays a crucial role in getting back to your usual lifestyle so you can become active again. Working to recover will help you heal faster and get you a better result.  We would advise you to mentally prepare for the recovery period and set goals every day. The total knee recovery time is usually around 12 weeks. Read below for a breakdown of how your recovery may look.

24 Hours Post-Op

Within 24 hours of waking up from your surgery it is very important to get moving in order to use your new knee and regain strength. A physical therapist will help you walk and pump your leg muscles, enhancing blood flow the day of the surgery.  Many patients go home the same day of the surgery, some stay one night in the hospital.

Week 1 Post-Op

Day 2: On the second day, after your surgery, you can expect to be able to walk better.

Day 3: On the third you will be able to shower. It is crucial to be very gentle when showering, drying yourself off, and dressing. We do not recommend utilizing antibiotic ointments unless recommended by your doctor.

Day 4: On day four you should be seeing your therapist as an outpatient.  You have full motion of your knee.  Swelling of the knee is not an excuse for moving it through a full range of motion

The very first week you will have to utilize the tips given to you at the hospital such as keeping the wound clean, changing bandages, and keeping an eye on redness, fever, and infection. You may want to set a goal for yourself to walk a lot this week.

Week 2 Post-Op

Continue to use any assistive devices if necessary – such as crutches or a walker and move your knee through a full range of motion.

Week 3-6 Post-Op

During weeks 3-6, you should be able to get back to your regular routine such biking (on a stationary bike). You should avoid intense workouts such as running and basketball.

By week 3 you should be off pain medicine and switch to ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your goal during these few weeks are to increase the strength of your knee by exercising and walking.

Week 7-11 Post-Op

Weeks 7-11, you are on the road to a successful recovery! You can walk without an assistive device and are now able to drive, house keep, and shop. Your physical therapist should continue to monitor your exercises and modify them. During this week it is very important to commit to exercise and keep your rehab plan consistent. Don’t forget about writing down your day by day goals!

 Week 12 Post-Op

Before you know it week 12 is here and you are continuing to be committed to a successful recovery. You may feel a noticeable decrease in pain at this point. Hopefully you are enjoying physical activities such as walking, dancing, biking, and swimming. It is crucial to avoid intensive activities that could damage your implant. Stay away from running, basketball, football, and any high impact exercises.

 Week 13 Post-Op

By week 13, you should feel back to your normal self again. Your knee has improved during the past several weeks and you are feeling little to no pain. Every person is different, so it may take some longer to heal.

A full recovery from a total knee replacement procedure is 3-12 months. However, the harder you work to getting back to normal, the faster you will heal. Remember to always stay in touch with your doctor and have periodic checkups to make sure your knee is functionally properly. If you are feeling any unusual movement or swelling, contact your doctor immediately.