Orthopaedic / Total Knee Replacement

How Long To Recover From A Total Knee Replacement?

How Long To Recover From A Total Knee Replacement?
by admin
16th January 2023
5 minutes read

After a total knee replacement surgery, recovery is an important stage. In this stage, you prepare yourself to get back on your feet and return to an active lifestyle. Each surgeon may have a different protocol, and each individual’s recovery journey is unique.

Recovery from a total knee replacement surgery may take about 3 months to 1 year, depending on how well you follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions. This may seem like a long time, but the total knee replacement itself can last as long as 15 to 20 years, giving you many years of comfort and mobility. And this is totally worth it!!!

Understanding the recovery timeline will help you prepare for the surgery. Your knee will take time to heal completely and rebuild strength.

What Is A Total Knee Replacement (TKR) Surgery?

When your knee is severely damaged, diseased, worn out, or injured, it causes excruciating pain and affects joint mobility. It leads to joint stiffness, which hinders your daily routine activities (like standing, walking, getting up from a chair, jogging, climbing stairs, etc.). 

The normal knee consists of three components, namely: 

  • The thigh bone (femur)
  • The shinbone (tibia)
  • Kneecap (patella)

Arthritis (inflammation of the joint) is the most common cause of damage to the structure of the three knee components. This causes severe pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced mobility and flexibility. When nonsurgical methods (walking aids, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy) fail to relieve pain, your orthopedic surgeon will recommend a total knee replacement surgery. Total knee replacement is a procedure that removes the damaged portions of the knee joint and replaces them with artificial implants (prosthesis). The recovery period is as important as the procedure. Read on to learn more about how to achieve a faster recovery. 

How Long Does It Take To Recover After A Total Knee Replacement Surgery?

Recovery is the most crucial part of total knee replacement surgery. The time taken for recovery can vary depending on the individual and the type of surgery that has been done (unilateral or bilateral total knee replacement surgery). 

Recovery timeline

  • 12 to 24 hours
    • Generally, you will be able to stand with support 12 to 24 hours post-surgery. Your physical therapist (PT) will help you to walk using an assistive device (walker, cane, crutches).
  • 1 to 3 days
    • After 1 to 3 days post-surgery, you may be able to stand with little or no help, dress, bathe, and use the toilet on your own.
  • 1 week 
    • After about a week, you will be able to walk without any support from your walking frame or crutches. 
  • 10 to 20 days
    • 10 to 20 days post-surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will remove the stitches around your operated knee.
  • 6 weeks
    • You will be able to resume normal activities 6 weeks after your surgery.
    • The first 6 weeks post-surgery, you may continue the pain medication given by your surgeon. 
  • 6 to 12 weeks
    • You can resume driving around 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery.
    • Depending on the type of job, you can generally return to work 6 to 12 weeks after your surgery.
    • By 7 to 11 weeks, you can resume bicycling, do mini squats, and resume swimming.
  • 3 months
    • By 3 months post-surgery, you can resume light household chores like dusting and washing up. Be careful not to lift heavy objects.
    • It may take up to 3 months for the pain and swelling to settle.
    • Around 3 months post-surgery, you can continue with high-impact activities if your surgeon agrees.
  • 1 to 2 years
    • However, it can take up to 1 year for the leg swelling to completely disappear.
    • Your knee will continue to recover for up to 2 years after a total knee replacement surgery.

Tips That Favour A Fast Recovery After A TKR Surgery

The aim of undergoing total knee replacement surgery is to lead a pain-free life and improve your knee function. It should be in your best interest to do everything possible to ensure a rapid and complete recovery.

Use the following tips for faster recovery from a knee replacement and get ready to enjoy a pain-free life.

  • Gearing up before the surgery
    • Eating healthy before and after your surgery will promote your overall health and thus will encourage faster healing post-surgery.
    • If you are a smoker, quiting smoking can be beneficial as it interferes with healing.
    • Follow the pre-surgery exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting your knee.
    • Make your home a safe place to prevent falls and injury post-surgery. Safety bars, secured handrails, and raised toilet seats are some of the safety measures you can take to ensure a smooth recovery.
  • Your position matters
    • During any rehab exercise post-surgery, it is important to keep your new knee straight and properly aligned.
  • Exercise right
    • Exercise helps strengthen your joints and improves flexibility.
    • Exercise every day for 20 to 30 minutes, 1 or 2 times a day based on your comfort.
  • Do not miss your physical therapy sessions
    • Your physical therapist will help you follow the right exercises with the correct technique
  • Take your medications 
    • Anti-inflammatory and pain medications have to be taken properly to speed up recovery and prevent any postoperative complications

Takeaway

It may take up to 12 weeks or 3 months to fully recover, after a total knee replacement surgery. However, you may be able to resume your typical household chores after about 4 to 6 weeks. Committing to your rehabilitation exercises and performing the activities assigned by your PT can help your knee become stronger and regain full motion.

Disclaimer: The content on this site is the copyright of Medfin and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. This should not be considered as a substitute for medical and surgical expertise. Results from any treatments or surgeries are subjective to an individual patient and the type of procedure/surgery performed. Please seek professional help regarding any medical concerns. Medfin will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.

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