After undergoing a knee replacement procedure, it can be
hard to feel like your normal self. You will experience pain, swelling, and
general feelings of discomfort while your body takes the time to recover and
adjust to the artificial joint. Over time and with the assistance of physical
therapy, the replacement knee will begin to function much the same as an
organic knee, and increase your quality of life. Here is what you can expect
from the day of surgery through the recovery process.
In the Hospital
Shortly after waking up from surgery, your physical
therapist will want you to begin moving your leg. It is important to begin
using your knee to reduce the likelihood of stiffness, strengthen the muscles,
and promote proper healing. You will likely begin standing, walking with an
assistive device, and getting in and out of your hospital bed. Your physical
therapist or hospital staff will help you with tasks like changing the bandages
on your knee, using the restroom, and getting dressed.
You may potentially be advised to use a continuous passive
motion (CPM) machine during your recovery. This machine keeps your leg in
motion and slowly bends and straightens the knee joint to help improve
circulation, prevent scar tissue buildup, diminish stiffness, reduce swelling,
and increase overall range of motion. It can be used both in the hospital and
when you return home to continue the healing process.
As the days go by, your activity level will increase, and
your pain level will decrease. Your knee will be strengthened, and you should
be able to walk with only minimal reliance on the assistive devices for
support. At the time of discharge, you should be able to bend your knee close
to 90 degrees, get dressed and bathe on your own, walk up and down stairs, get
in and out of bed, and be comfortable with performing the recommended
Post-Hospital to Week 3
Movement should be coming much easier now, and your pain
will be gradually diminishing. You can likely go for longer walks, perhaps even
venturing outdoors with minimal mobility aids such as a cane. You may be
continuing to use the CPM machine, and should be following the daily activity
and exercise plan given to you by your physical therapist.
Your knee should have significantly improved strength and
bending capabilities if you have been following your rehabilitation plan. Household
activities such as cooking and cleaning will become easier to do given your
increased mobility. Your physical therapist may suggest increasing the length
of your walks, and beginning to remove mobility aids completely as you regain
confidence and power.
Ask your doctor and therapist when you will be able to
return to work if applicable, and regular daily activities like driving. Don’t
rush into anything without the okay as you do not want to reverse any progress.
Your recovery will be progressing well. By this point, you
will likely be able to walk a few blocks on your own, and have gotten back into
basic activities like driving, regular housekeeping, and shopping. Your
exercises may be altered depending on your movement capabilities to ensure
you’re maximizing your knee’s abilities and setting up the road for continued
Week 12 and After
You should feel a dramatic decrease in pain, and can begin
to participate in more physical activities like dancing, riding a bicycle, or
swimming as long as you are cleared by your medical team. Avoid high impact
sports and hobbies that can damage your replacement knee or the tissue
After approximately a year, most patients feel almost 100%
better. The key to a full and quick recovery is working hard on your
rehabilitation plan and keeping in contact with your medical team. Make
occasional check-in appointments to ensure everything is in place and working
as it should be, and continue to take care of your replacement joint.
If during your
rehabilitation you feel that you would benefit from the care of a specialized
treatment center with trained nursing staff, give us a call at 401-765-1440 for
more information about our skilled nursing facility in Manville, Rhode Island, or fill out this online form to book a tour.