How Long Does It Take to Recover From Knee Replacement?

Medically Reviewed on 2/22/2022
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Knee Replacement
It takes about 6 weeks to resume normal activities after knee replacement surgery, while full recovery may take 4-6 weeks or even a whole year

In most cases, it takes about 6 weeks to resume normal activities after knee replacement surgery, while full recovery may take 4-6 weeks or even a whole year. The recovery period varies from patient to patient depending on overall health and postoperative complications such as infections. 

Doctors often urge patients to begin mobility exercises using a walker or other orthopedic equipment the same day of their knee replacement surgery. Physical therapy may be started as soon as possible to prevent post-procedural stiffness in the joint.

The first 12 weeks are considered crucial for recovery. Proper planning and rehabilitation can help you recover faster and increase your chances of long-term success.

8 tips to speed up recovery post knee replacement

  1. Follow physician recommendations: Your surgeon understands what is needed for speedy recovery. If they prescribe medication, recommend rest, or give other instructions, make sure to follow them exactly. Not listening to your doctor can lead to delays in recovery as well as dangerous side effects.
  2. Pain management: Although some discomfort is to be expected after knee replacement surgery, an excellent pain management regimen can dramatically reduce pain and accelerate recovery. Because pain is subjective, accurately describing and pinpointing the location and degree of the pain are critical, which will help the care team know whether pain is consistent or sporadic, as well as whether it is intense, tingling, or burning.
  3. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet following surgery helps with speeding up recovery. As your body tries to repair itself, it requires essential vitamins, minerals, and protein, and the best way to obtain them organically is through healthy foods. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods.
  4. Move around: Getting back on your feet as soon as your doctor says it’s OK can help you recover faster. Most patients can begin walking while still in the hospital and are often encouraged to walk within 24 hours following the surgery. Walking improves circulation, reducing the risk of blood clots, and keeps joints mobile and flexible. The movement also helps carry vital nutrients to the knee, allowing it to mend and repair. You may have to use a walker for the first few weeks, but most patients should be able to walk on their own within 4-8 weeks.
  5. Physical and occupational therapy: Physical therapy is an important element of the recovery process after knee replacement surgery. A physical therapist can teach you activities that promote knee healing, which you can perform at home or in a rehab facility. Even if you feel fine, it is critical to keep up with your physical therapy exercises as they will help strengthen the leg and allow you to regain movement in the knee joint. An occupational therapist can evaluate knee strength and range of motion and may teach you how to use adaptive equipment for walking, stretching, and other activities.
  6. Exercise: Exercise is not the same as movements taught in physical therapy. Engaging in regular physical activity strengthens the muscles and allows you to recover faster. It is, however, critical to avoid pushing yourself too hard so as to avoid injury to the knee and cause setbacks. Be careful to avoid exercises that are too intense. Ask a trainer for help finding activities that are safe to perform.
  7. Rest: While you may be eager to do as much as you can to speed up your recovery, it’s important to remember that rest is just as vital for recovery as exercise. You may experience mild to moderate swelling of the afflicted knee during the first several months. Getting enough rest, keeping the leg elevated, and administering ice can all help speed up the healing process.
  8. Sleep: Getting adequate sleep after surgery is crucial as well. Researchers have discovered that a significant amount of healing and strengthening occurs during sleep. Aim to get plenty of sleep during the recovery period. 


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Medically Reviewed on 2/22/2022
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