A Knee Replacement Recovery Timeline

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Close up- Knee replacement surgery after operation patient on the bed in hospital

Are you preparing for knee replacement surgery?

You’ll be amazed how much easier your life is when you’re no longer living with knee pain. 

But even though you’ll be tempted to try out that new knee to its full capacity right away, you will need to practice some patience during your knee replacement recovery time.

What to Expect During Knee Replacement Recovery

In the past, medical wisdom dictated “babying” the knee after surgery. But that’s no longer the case. 

Although you don’t want to push your knee past its limit, is it important that you commit to a plan and push yourself to do as much as you can each day.

What you do during those 12 weeks after surgery is crucial to your recovery. You might find it helpful to create a plan using a timeline template that lays out your goals and the actions you hope to achieve.

Here is what you can expect:

The First Week

The first day after your surgery, a physical therapist will want you to get on your feet and teach you to pump your ankles to improve blood flow.

In the days that follow, you’ll continue with physical therapy – either at home or in the hospital. By day 3, you should be able to take a shower. By the middle of the week, you’ll be getting around on a walker or with crutches.

By the end of the week, you should be able to get in and out of bed and perform transfers with the least amount of help possible. You should be able to walk at least 25 feet and get a 90-degree range of motion in your knee and have an understanding of the exercises you’ll be doingevery day. 

Weeks 2-3

By now you’ve been back home or in a rehab facility and should be able to move around more freely with assistive devices while feeling less pain.

As time goes on, you’ll rely less on assistive devices. Your PT will prescribe a daily regimen of exercises you should do. Bathing and dressing will become easier and you may be able to reduce your pain medications.

Weeks 4-6

During this time, you’ll start to feel comfortable getting back to most of your normal activities – provided they are very low or no-impact. You’ll need to avoid high-impact activities.

By the end of this time, the swelling and inflammation should have gone down considerably. You should be able to kneel, though it may feel stiff and not yet comfortable.  

Weeks 6-12

At this point in your recovery, you may be able to walk a couple of blocks without any type of assistive device. It is also around week 6 when you will be given permission to drive again. 

Eventually, you will be able to return to basic activities that require physical exertion such as running errands or doing yard work. In these final weeks, your PT will continue to monitor your exercises and give you modifications as your knee continues to improve. 

Best Wishes for a Speedy Recovery

With new advanced procedures, the road to knee replacement recovery is not as long and arduous as it once was. Just follow the directions of your PT and stick to your schedule, and you’ll be back up and at it in no time at all.

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