Knee Replacement Recovery TimeSep 25, 2023
A knee replacement surgery is a very common surgery to treat knee osteoarthritis/arthritis. A knee replacement is one of the most successful surgeries known due to its patient satisfaction. If you are considering a knee replacement, you likely would like to return to your daily life and recreational activities without the ongoing knee pain. When the knee pain is so debilitating, a knee replacement should be considered.
Before getting a knee replacement, it is important for you to know what you are in for. Each person is different, but typically full recovery after a total knee replacement is 1 YEAR.
Yes, that is a long time, but let’s look at the details…
50% of recovery by 3 months.
90% of recovery by 6-9 months
100% recovered by one year.
Recovery Time for Knee Replacement: What to Expect in the First 12 Weeks
Recovery after a knee replacement surgery can vary from person to person, but there are general stages and milestones that most people go through during the first 12 weeks after surgery.
Immediately after surgery, you will likely spend a few days in the hospital to recover from the procedure and receive physical therapy. During this time, you may be given pain medication to manage any discomfort, and you will be encouraged to start moving and walking with the help of crutches or a walker. A walker is used 90% of the time.
The first week
In the first week after your total knee replacement surgery, you will continue to work on regaining mobility and strength in your knee. Most of the focus of your first physical therapy session will be managing knee pain and symptoms. You will have a lot swelling, stiffness and areas of tenderness. You may need to attend physical therapy sessions several times a week to help you with your exercises and answer your questions. If you are not going to outpatient physical therapy, you might have home health physical therapy, which means your physical therapist will come to your home. Make sure you ask your surgeon prior to surgery which one you will be receiving. You will also need to be careful to follow your surgeon's instructions about how much weight to put on your knee. 99% of the time you will be “weight bearing as tolerated” meaning you can put as much weight on your knee as you can tolerate.
The second week
By the end of the second week, you may be able to walk without assistance, and you may begin to feel more comfortable and confident with your new knee. However, each person is very different at this time. Some need the walker for 1 week and some need it for 6 weeks. Do not get discouraged if you need the walker longer! At week 2, it is important to listen to your physical therapists advice and not do too much too soon, even if you are feeling good.
Week three to six
During weeks three to six, you should continue to work on your mobility and strength with a majority of your therapy focused on improving your knee’s range of motion. Scar tissue starts to get very dense by 6 weeks post surgery so this is key to recovery. You may be able to start doing more challenging exercises and activities with the guidance of your physical therapist. You may also be able to return to some light work or normal activities of daily living.
By weeks twelve, you should be making significant progress in your recovery. You may be able to walk without a limp, climb stairs, and perform more demanding physical activities. However, you should still avoid high-impact activities or sports that could put too much stress on your knee.
Knee Replacement Recovery Time: What to Expect 3-6 month post surgery
Reduced Pain and Swelling
One of the most noticeable improvements that patients are likely to experience during the 3-6 month post-surgery period is a significant reduction in pain and swelling around the knee joint. This is because the initial healing process is mostly complete, and the tissues and structures around the knee have had time to adjust to the presence of the new implant. This reduction in pain and swelling can have a significant impact on the patient's quality of life, allowing them to engage in more activities and exercises as part of their rehabilitation program. But…at 3-6 months, you won’t be quite satisfied with your knee. Symptoms still arise if you do too much and don’t take time to rest.
Improved Mobility and Function
Another key improvement that patients are likely to notice during the 3-6 month post-surgery period is an improvement in their mobility and function in the affected knee joint. This can manifest as an increased range of motion, improved strength and stability, and greater overall function in the knee joint. Patients may be able to perform activities that were previously difficult or impossible, such as walking longer distances or climbing stairs, which can have a significant impact on their independence and overall quality of life.
Increased Activity Levels
As patients continue to progress through the post-surgery recovery period, they may be able to gradually increase their activity levels and engage in more challenging exercises or activities, depending on their individual circumstances and the recommendations of their surgeon and physical therapist. This can help further improve their mobility, strength, and overall function in the knee joint, while also allowing them to enjoy a more active and healthy lifestyle.
Challenges and Complications
While the 3-6 month post-surgery period can be a time of significant progress and improvement for patients, it is important to remember that there may also be challenges and complications that arise during this time. For example, some patients may experience continued pain or discomfort in the artificial knee joint, even after the initial healing period is complete. Others may experience complications such as infection or implant failure, which can require additional surgery or treatment. This is very rare.
Will I need to use crutches or other assistive devices after knee replacement surgery?
Yes. After a total knee replacement, 99% of patients are using some sort of assistive device, usually a walker or crutches. Crutches will be reserved for someone with good balnace. A walker is for someone who is less mobile and needs a more stable device to get around. If you are concerned at all about falling, a walker is the best option.
The kind of assistive device you need following knee surgery varies depending on the situation, but common equipment includes:
We have a courses available to help you [SUCCEED] with your new knee.