Recovery From Knee Replacement Surgery

Submitted by Nic on November 12, 2012

A knee replacement surgery or knee arthroplasty is a medical procedure that can help relieve pain in damaged or diseased knees. You could be asked to go through this surgery to improve the functioning and mobility of your knee joints.

While performing a knee replacement surgery, your doctor will remove the damaged cartilage and bone from your kneecap, shinbone and thighbone. An artificial joint made of metal alloys, high grade plastic and polymers will then be used as a replacement. Depending upon the severity of your knee-problem, your doctor may advise you to go in for a partial or a total knee replacement surgery.

In a partial knee replacement surgery, your doctor will only replace the affected part of your knee; your original knee structure remains intact to a great extent. In the total knee replacement surgery, all the three components as well as the ligaments of your knee are replaced. It may take your body a while to recuperate completely from the procedure.

The length of recovery from knee replacement surgery depends upon certain factors like your age, medical history, overall health, the type are surgery you undergo and your aftercare.

Recovery Time

The recovery time from a knee replacement surgery varies from one patient to the other; though, most normal healthy people see a considerable improvement of range and mobility within 6 to 12 weeks of the surgery. On average, recovery from full knee replacement surgery may take approximately 8 to 12 weeks. For most patients, recovery from partial knee replacement surgery takes around 6 to 10 weeks.


  • After the surgery, you will need to stay at the hospital or a medical facility for around 3 days. A day after the surgery, you will be asked to stand or move around, probably with the help of parallel bars. You may be given a walker to move around while you are in the hospital. Your doctors will give you medication for the pain that usually lasts around 48 to 72 hours.
  • Three days after the surgery, your doctor may allow you to go home, if your reports are satisfactory. Initially, you may need to use a walking device (cane, walker or crutches) till your knees are capable of supporting your full body weight. You need to ensure that you do not walk or stand for a long period of time each day. Activities like shopping and cleaning the house are fine, but you should strictly avoid anything that causes you to bend or strain your knee for a long period of time.

You can also ask your doctor to prescribe some painkillers, if required.

  • It is absolutely essential that you start physical therapy within 6 weeks of the surgery and the sooner you start the better it is. This will improve the motion of your knee and will allow you to resume your normal activities at a faster rate. Physical therapy involves knee-strengthening exercises recommended by a specialized therapist. You may also be asked to go for a walk or try swimming for a short while each day. The post-surgery pain should reduce by this time.

Exerting yourself soon after the surgery could hamper your recovery. To avoid this, set up an appointment with your physician and get as much information as possible about the recovery process especially the amount of time you need to take off work and the activities you should avoid. In all probability, there are certain high-impact activities, like jogging or running that you will not be able to perform and should avoid after the knee replacement. Also inform your doctor about any long-term medication (including herbal medicines) that you are taking.


  • David Shakespeare, Vera Kinzel, Rehabilitation after total knee replacement: Time to go home?, The Knee, Volume 12, Issue 3, June 2005, Pages 185-189, ISSN 0968-0160, 10.1016/j.knee.2004.06.007.
  • Seamus O'Brien, An outcome study on average length of stay following total hip and knee replacement, Journal of Orthopaedic Nursing, Volume 6, Issue 3, August 2002, Pages 161-169, ISSN 1361-3111, 10.1016/S1361-3111(02)00055-9.
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