Within 24 hours after surgery, a patient is encouraged to walk with the aid of a walker or other orthopedic device. A patient may stay in the hospital for 3 to 7 days. Patients who require extra attention or do not have home support may be transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center.
- See also Knee Surgery for Arthritis
Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery
After discharge, outpatient physical therapy will be prescribed. A physical therapist will teach the patient:
- Knee strengthening exercises
- Knee stretches that will inhibit the development of scar tissue, which can reduce range of motion
By gradually building strength and flexibility, the patient eventually can walk unaided.
Timeline for Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery
Most patients are able to care for themselves and resume normal daily activities within 6 weeks and drive within 4 to 6 weeks.16 It may take 3 months to an entire year to fully recover and realize total benefits of knee replacement surgery.17
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Living with a Knee Replacement
Illustration of total knee replacement surgery.
Total knee replacement may greatly improve function, but patients will not be able to do more than they did before the onset of arthritis. Also, patients are strongly advised against engaging in high-impact activities (such as jogging or skiing) that may speed up the loosening or deterioration of the replacement joint.
Most artificial knees last 15 years or more before needing to be replaced again.18