Knee Replacement Recovery: What to Expect After Surgery

The recovery process after knee replacement surgery is essential for achieving the best possible outcome. It will help you regain strength, mobility, and function in the affected knee. At Seaview Orthopaedics, our team of expert joint replacement surgeons is here to offer guidance and support every step of the way. Your physician will monitor your progress, prescribe physical therapy, adjust medication, and help you set realistic goals for getting back to your daily activities. 

How Long is the Recovery From Knee Replacement? 

Rehabilitation from a knee replacement varies but should be within 12 weeks. There are several factors that could affect recovery –  patient age, overall health and commitment to the treatment plan. We recommend icing the knee early and often after surgery to help with pain and swelling.

What is the Most Important Aspect of Knee Replacement Recovery? 

Physical therapy is one of the most important aspects of the recovery process. Patients are usually walking with assistance from a physical therapist after waking up from their surgery. Physical Therapy will help to regain strength, function and mobility of the joint, as well as help to reduce stiffness, swelling, and pain after surgery. Physical therapy will begin immediately following surgery and will continue for about 4-8 weeks. Your therapist will work with you to create an exercise program that helps to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the knee.

What Do the First Two Weeks Post-Op Look Like?

The first 2 weeks post-op are significant to the recovery process. 

Physical Therapy to regain strength and motion of the knee during the first 2 weeks can be in-home or at an outpatient facility based on the patient’s physical health. 

Typically, a physical therapist will come to your house for the first 2 weeks to begin working on regaining strength and motion of the knee. During this time, you will transition from using a walker to a cane. It is also important to ice the knee regularly to help with reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation. 

When Can I Walk Independently Again After a Knee Replacement?

Generally, patients are able to walk without assistance at 4-6 weeks post-op. It is important to keep in mind factors such as pain level, strength, range of motion, and adherence to physical therapy.

What Medications Do I Take After a Knee Replacement?

A combination of different medications will be prescribed to help with preventing blood clots and reducing pain after your procedure. Generally, this will look like the following:

  • 1 – 2 Weeks: Narcotic Pain Medication (As needed)
  • 4 Weeks: Blood Thinner
  • 4 – 6 Weeks: NSAIDS(anti-inflammatory)
  • 4 – 6 Weeks: Tylenol

Why is Icing the Knee so Important After Knee Replacement Surgery?

For the first 2 weeks after surgery, icing the knee is going to be crucial to your recovery. This will help reduce inflammation and swelling, improve circulation, and help you get your knee moving.  Icing the knee for 20-40 minutes at a time, 3-4 times per day is ideal during the first few weeks of recovery. 

When Can I Shower After Knee Replacement Surgery?

Showering is a common concern for patients following a knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions for post-operative care, however, generally you are able to shower 48-72 hours after surgery.

The most important thing to promote optimal healing is to keep the incision site clean and dry and avoid fully submerging the wound in water for at least 2 weeks. Be sure to check your wound for any sign of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge, and contact your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns. 

When Can I Drive Again After Knee Replacement Surgery?

In order to return to driving, patients must meet the following requirements:

  • Discontinued use of narcotic pain medication
  • Feeling awake and alert
  • Enough strength in the legs to brake and accelerate accordingly

Patients typically will return to driving between 2-6 weeks after surgery, but it is important to note that this may differ depending on laterality and patient recovery. It is not recommended for those receiving a right knee replacement to return to driving for a minimum of 4 weeks. Patients should consult with their physical therapist and surgeon before getting back behind the wheel. 

When Should I Schedule a Follow-Up Visit?

Our surgical scheduling team will work with you to schedule your post-op appointment ahead of your surgery to put your mind at ease. Typically, you will have a follow up appointments will be 2 weeks, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks following your surgery. During your recovery, please call the office immediately with any questions or concerns.

Schedule an Appointment with a Knee Replacement Surgeon in NJ

Our board-certified surgeons at Seaview Orthopaedics are here to help with your joint replacement procedure. Their expertise, combined with our experienced staff, ensures you are in good hands throughout the surgical process. If you think you may be a candidate for knee replacement surgery and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call our office at (732) 660-6200 or you may schedule an appointment online.

Schedule An Appointment with Our Knee Specialists

Bert Parcells, Joint Replacement Surgeon

Meet Dr. Parcells

Dr. Parcells is a board-certified and fellowship trained joint replacement surgeon. He attended the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate, was inducted into the national medical honors society when graduating from medical school, completed his orthopedic training at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and received advanced fellowship training in the prevention and treatment of arthritis, including joint arthroscopy and joint replacement surgery.

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