Recovering From Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Posted on: 12 December 2015


It takes a lot of work, patience, and time to recover from a total knee replacement surgery. However, the long rehabilitation process keeps scar tissue from affecting your mobility. Learn what to expect on your road to recovery.

Short-Term Recovery

After your surgery, you'll most likely remain in the hospital for a few days so that the staff can monitor your progress and give you medication to help manage your level of pain. You should expect physical therapy to begin 48 hours after your surgery is complete.

The physical therapist that works with you at the hospital will teach you several simple exercises that will help improve flexibility in your leg and strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee. Physical therapists typically visit patients to walk them through exercises daily. However, don't be surprised if your nurse and/or doctor suggests that you complete your leg exercises multiple times each day.

While you're in the hospital, your surgeon may want you to use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine several times each day. The CPM machine sits on your bed, so you don't have to get up to use it. When it's turned on, it bends and straightens your leg continually to keep the muscles moving and the blood flowing.This helps prevent excess scar tissue from developing to the point that it causes your joint to become stiff.

Sometimes patients are able to return to their homes after they are discharged from the hospital. If you are able to go home, you'll most likely continue your rehabilitation process via outpatient physical therapy sessions. If your surgeon thinks you need to be monitored further or need in-patient care, you'll go to an assisted living facility after leaving the hospital.

Long-Term Recovery

Typically, most patients can resume the majority of their normal activities around 12 weeks post-op. However, it can take between three and six months for the soft tissues surrounding your knee and your surgical wounds to completely heal. In fact, you might even discover that your foot still swells up one year after your surgery.

When it comes to total knee replacement surgery, healing completely doesn't mean that you can forget about your surgery and move on. For the rest of your life, you'll need to tell your doctor about your knee replacement surgery before going through any type of invasive procedure. This way, they can prescribe a round of antibiotics for you to prevent infection. Also, you need to avoid high-impact activities and any activities or sports that could cause you to twist your knee, unless your doctor approves.  

Recovering from a total knee replacement surgery does take a long time. However, the recovery process will be a lot easier if you follow all of the instructions given to you by your doctor and physical therapist during your rehabilitation process.