Knee Replacement Recovery: What to Expect

Is a Knee Replacement Right For You?

If you are contemplating a knee replacement, there are likely several factors you are considering in deciding on this type of surgery. You are probably thinking about the procedure itself, the risks, benefits and recovery process. Experiencing chronic pain in the knee and limited range of motion can impact your quality of life and ability to do daily activities. Climbing stairs, getting up from a seated position and even walking can be extremely difficult for someone with arthritis in the knee, a worn out joint or certain knee injuries. For this reason, knee replacement can seem like a great option.

What is a Knee Replacement?

During a knee replacement, an orthopaedic surgeon will make an incision above the knee, replacing damaged bone and cartilage with metal and/or plastic parts. This procedure is fairly common and will typically last for about 15 to 20 years. Patients that undergo a knee replacement can often benefit from an improved quality of life, significant decrease in pain and improved mobility.

What to Expect During Recovery

If you are contemplating a knee replacement, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Once you understand the procedure, you will want to know what to expect in the days, weeks and months after the surgery. The average recovery time for this procedure is six months, however, returning to rigorous physical activity can take up to twelve months for some patients. Age, weight and overall health are factors that can impact recovery timelines. For the first several weeks, you may need assistance walking including the use of a walker or crutches.

One of the risks associated with knee replacement surgery is a developing a blood clot. To help avoid this complication, it is best to try to get up and walk soon after surgery, using assistance or crutches. Wearing compression socks and taking blood thinners after surgery can also decrease the likelihood of a blood clot.

Physical therapy will be a key component of recovery after surgery. This will begin immediately after surgery but the duration and frequency of physical therapy can vary widely from one person to another. Some people will need up to four months of physical therapy while others will not need therapy beyond six or eight weeks.

If you are considering a knee replacement, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with your orthopaedic surgeon. Making a list of questions prior to meeting with your doctor is a great way to assure you get all of the information you need to make an informed decision.


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