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Your Knee Replacement Recovery Plan


Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Most people have knee replacement surgery when they can no longer tolerate the pain or limitations caused by arthritis in the joint. Even after undergoing knee surgery, there is still a long road ahead in terms of physical therapy to work with your new knee. Your recovery process will involve getting back some range of motion and being able to go about your daily activities.

Knee Replacement Surgery

In knee replacement surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon will remove the arthritic surfaces in the knee. The surgeon then resurfaces the bottom of the thighbone and the top of the shinbone with artificial surfaces lined with metal and plastic. The surgery is usually performed on one knee at a time.

Recovery 1 Week After Knee Replacement Surgery

Right after surgery, you will receive antibiotics and pain medicine. Most people can walk with crutches or a walker within a day or two.

You’ll spend a few days in the hospital and will start basic physical therapy exercises to help you bend your knee.

Recovery a Few Weeks After Your Knee Replacement

You will have an exercise program to follow while at home and be recommended for an outpatient or at-home physical therapy program. The main goal of these programs is to be able to bend your knee at least 90 degrees. More movement depends on how well you follow an exercise program and how much mobility you had before surgery.

Exercise regularly at home to build strength, flexibility, and endurance.

Your doctor may recommend some exercises such as:

  • Swimming
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Walking

Committing to the exercises and physical therapy will help you recover faster and prevent future injury.

Swimming, riding a stationary bike, and walking are just a few post-knee replacement exercises. Click To Tweet

Continued Knee Replacement Recovery

Physical therapy will last for at least 3 to 6 months after surgery.

Staying active and controlling your weight are the best ways to aid your recovery and keep your knee strong. A replacement knee joint usually lasts about 15 years. Advancements in the implant materials may give you an even longer life from your joint. The more you care for your joint, the longer it will last.

If you begin activities that place a lot of stress on the joint or are younger than 60, the parts will wear out faster, and you may need to undergo another replacement.

Knee replacement surgery is intended to help you get back to daily activities and some exercises or sports you played before your knee was damaged. The surgery does not restore the same level of function you had before your knee was damaged.

orthopaedic surgery

UPMC Orthopaedic Care

A nationally recognized leader in advanced orthopaedics, UPMC Orthopaedic Care offers comprehensive services for the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions. Our extensive group of orthopaedic physicians and staff develop comprehensive management and treatment plans for our patients, including some of the latest diagnostic and imaging technologies and the most advanced surgical techniques. Read More